The UK Government Announces Plans To Ban The Brutal Shark Fin Trade As Part Of The New Action Plan For Animal Welfare

Earlier this week, International Ocean Minister Lord Goldsmith announced that as part of the new Action Plan For Animal Welfare, the UK will go further than any other country to stop the cruel practice of shark finning.

As previously reported by WAN, in May of this year, the UK Government published the history-making plan that is designed to revolutionize the treatment of animals in the UK and introduce measures to protect the welfare of animals abroad.

The UK has a strong track record in marine conservation and has been pressing for stronger international action to protect sharks against unsustainable fishing practices and shark finning, which is the practice of removing a shark’s fins at sea and discarding the finless body back into the water.

“Shark finning is indescribably cruel and causes thousands of sharks to die terrible deaths. It is also unforgivably wasteful. The practice is rightly banned in UK waters, but the trade continues, with serious implications for the future of these magnificent creatures,” Lord Goldsmith, who also serves as the Animal Welfare Minister, said in a statement. “That is why we are now banning the import both of detached shark fins and shark fin products. Our action will not only help boost shark numbers, it will send a clear message that we do not support an industry that is forcing many species to the brink of extinction.”

Many species of shark face significant population pressures. Out of over 500 species of shark, 143 are listed as ‘under threat’ under the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with different species ranging from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘critically endangered.’ The presence and variety of sharks in marine areas is a key indicator for ocean health.

Demand for shark fin products, including tinned shark fin soup, is a significant driver for these pressures, alongside over-fishing. Banning detached fins from being brought into the UK will help to protect wild populations of shark species, such as the endangered short fin mako shark and overfished blue shark, which have both declined rapidly as a result of unsustainable fishing practices.

“The unsustainable rate at which sharks are caught by global fishing fleets, as bycatch or deliberately for their fins and meat, has caused a significant decline in worldwide shark populations,” noted Shark Conservationist James Glancy. “As a consequence of human activity, many shark species are critically endangered and face extinction in some regions.”

The UK will continue to champion conservation measures for sharks through Regional Fisheries Management Organizations and under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which prohibits or requires trades to be carefully regulated. This ban represents another important step in delivering better shark conservation globally.

“The UK is also leading a global campaign, supported by over 80 countries, for at least 30% of the world’s land and ocean to be protected by 2030,” as per Lord Goldsmith,

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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