Great Britain’s new law protects sharks

This puts Great Britain in first place in the global fight to protect sharks, striking a serious blow on the shark fin industry

7 July 2023 | by Redazione

British environmentalists were expecting “royal confirmation” by King Charles III by the end of the year, but their wait was much shorter: the law that prohibits the import and export of shark fins in Great Britain has already been signed. This puts Great Britain in first place in the global fight to protect sharks and strikes a serious blow to the shark fin industry, which usually sells them for making soup.

At the same time it marks a win for  Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation, the organisation leading the  “No Fin To Declare“ campaign for eight years. This campaign highlighted, in particular, the United Kingdom’s role in the sale of shark fins, bringing it to the attention of the media and aiming to make the country “shark fin free” through politicians and famous personalities.

Increasing knowledge on shark conservation and a widespread information campaign led to changing minds and palates: at the beginning of their campaign, Great Britain had 63 restaurants offering shark fins on their menus, while now it is only 14.

This is a great day for shark conservation – said Graham Buckingham, campaign manager for Bite-Back – and is proof that you can achieve anything if you persevere. For the good of the oceans, I hope this news encourages other countries to follow the United Kingdom’s example and end the devastating, barbaric and useless sale of shark fins.”

The amount of fins exported from the country, first for processing in Spain then shipped to the East, appears to have been around 20 tonnes a year, without including those eaten in restaurants based in the UK. The most common species in UK commerce, killed through the shark finning process, where the fin is cut off and the shark is thrown back into the water to suffocate and die, is the blue shark.

The route the product takes in coming into Britain is as yet unclear. With classic British aplomb, the fault was given to Europe, because of a law on the continent that allows the transportation of 20kg per person of dried shark fins for personal use. Although this provision may seem absurd, the idea of a queue of contraband smugglers carrying stinky bags of fins at customs is just as strange.

Now, after the king’s signature, this too shall end. “A ban from the United Kingdom on the import and export of shark fins – declared Buckingham Palace – represents a world-leading victory for shark conservation, a serious blow to the shark fin industry and new hope for countries looking to implement a similar ban in Europe and around the world.

Every year – concludes Buckingham Palace – at least 73 million sharks are butchered, many for just their fins, used as a main ingredient in an Asian soup. In some parts of the world the population of great white, hammerhead, thresher and white fin sharks in the oceans has been reduced by 90%. What’s worse, they could disappear completely by 2048.” We truly hope this will not be the case.



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