Closed petition The UK should ban the importation of Shark Fins.

Now that we have left the EU, the UK has the ability to finally stop the importation of Shark Fins. They had previously stated that 'Whilst in the EU, it is not possible to unilaterally ban the import of shark fins into the UK.'

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Each year roughly 75 million sharks are killed for Shark Fin Soup where their fins are brutally cut from their bodies and thrown back in the sea to die. Despite countries in recent years making an attempt to crack down on Shark Finning no European country has yet to ban the importation of fins, meaning that loopholes still exist. Britain should become the first European country to ban the importation of Shark Fins before we lose these beautiful creatures forever.

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Parliament debated this topic

This topic was debated on 7 June 2021

Watch the petition 'The UK should ban the importation of Shark Fins.' being debated

Government responded

This response was given on 3 November 2020

The Government is opposed to SF. SF is banned in UK waters and we support international controls. We are working to address the importation of shark fins, and to end illegal SF practices globally.

Read the response in full

The UK has a strong track record in marine conservation and places great importance on ensuring that appropriate protection and management is in place for all shark species.

The UK Government is strongly opposed to shark finning, the practice of removing the fins of a shark and discarding the body at sea. The UK has already banned the act of shark finning and has enforced a Fins Naturally Attached policy in order to combat illegal finning of sharks in UK and EU waters. This means that shark fins from sharks fished in UK and EU waters can only be retained and utilised provided they are still attached to the shark when landed at port by fishing vessels.

Following the end of the Transition period we will explore options consistent with World Trade Organisation rules to address the importation of shark fins from other areas, to support efforts to end illegal shark finning practices globally.

The UK Government does not oppose the capture and use of sharks providing catches are shown to be genuinely sustainable; the whole shark is used; and that fins are not removed from sharks while alive. The Government is also exploring a range of other measures to support shark conservation. The greatest conservation benefit for sharks will come through controls directed at the activities of the fishing vessels operating on the high seas rather than just restrictions on the trade itself. This is why the UK continues to press for stronger international controls within the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the associated Sharks MoU.

Additional trade controls are in place for certain species of sharks under CITES. These can prohibit the trade in particular species or require trade to be carefully regulated, including through additional assessments of sustainability. Currently there are 46 species of sharks and rays listed under CITES and the UK played a leading role in successfully championing the listing of 18 shark species to appendix II of CITES at the Conference on Parties in August last year.

Having left the EU, the UK can champion conservation measures much more forcefully in international fora. This will help improve shark conservation globally through RFMOs and through CITES. In addition, EU law allows individuals travelling to Europe to carry 20kg of dried shark fins for personal consumption. Our departure from the EU allows us to consider options to tighten the personal import allowance and improve the traceability of the shark in fin trade in the UK.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300535)

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Original Government response

The UK Government is strongly opposed to shark finning. Shark finning is already banned in UK waters and we continue to support stronger international controls.

The UK has a strong track record in marine conservation and places great importance in ensuring that appropriate protection and management is in place for all shark species.

The UK Government is strongly opposed to shark finning, the practice of removing the fins of a shark and discarding the body at sea. The UK has already banned the act of shark finning and has enforced a Fins Naturally Attached policy in order to combat illegal finning of sharks.

The UK Government does not oppose the capture and use of sharks providing catches are shown to be sustainable. However, not to use the whole of any sustainably caught animal would be considered wasteful. We continue to push for stronger controls in order to reduce the risk of illegal finning.

The greatest conservation benefit for sharks will come through controls directed at the activities of the fishing vessels operating on the high seas rather than restrictions on the trade itself. We recognise that the demand for shark fins can be a significant driving force behind the capture of sharks and can fuel unsustainable practices. This is why the UK continues to press for stronger international controls within the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the associated Sharks MoU.

Additional trade controls are in place for certain species of sharks under CITES. These can prohibit the trade in particular species or require trade to be carefully regulated, including through additional assessments of sustainability. Since 2003, 20 species of sharks and rays have been listed under CITES. The UK played a leading role in successfully championing the listing of an additional 18 shark species to appendix II of CITES at the Conference on Parties in August last year.

Having left the EU, the UK can champion conservation measures much more forcefully. This will help improve shark conservation globally through RFMOs and through CITES.

In addition, EU law allows individuals travelling to Europe to carry 20kg of dried shark fins for personal consumption. Our departure from the EU allows us to consider options to tighten the personal import allowance and improve the traceability of the shark in fin trade in the UK.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This response was given on 29 June 2020. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.

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As part of the Queen's Speech on Tuesday 11th May, the Government announced that it plans to introduce new laws to protect and promote the highest standards of animal welfare in the UK.

The Government's proposals are set out in a new Action Plan for Animal Welfare, which was published this week. Its proposals focus on improving the welfare of pets and farmed animals, and protecting wild animals in the UK and animals exported or found outside the UK.

The Government intends to introduce three new Bills into Parliament to make these changes - the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, the Kept Animals Bill, and the Animals Abroad Bill. These Bills will be published in due course.

Read more about the Government's plans here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-to-lead-the-way-on-animal-welfare-through-flagship-new-action-plan

Read the Queen's Speech background briefing notes for more information on the Government's proposed Bills:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/queens-speech-2021-background-briefing-notes

What is the Queen's Speech?

The Queen's Speech is the speech that the Queen reads out in the House of Lords Chamber on the occasion of the State Opening of Parliament.

It's written by the Government and sets out the programme of Bills - new laws, and changes to existing laws - that the Government intends to put forward in this new Parliamentary session. A session of Parliament usually lasts around one year.

Once the Government puts forward a Bill in Parliament, Parliament then debates the Government's proposal and decides whether to adopt the changes to the law set out in the Bill.