Canada’s a step closer to protecting some of the ocean’s most important predators with the introduction of legislation that would ban the trade of shark fins.
While Canada banned shark finning in 1994, which involves removing sharks’ fins and throwing their bodies back while they’re still alive, fins can still be imported and the global trade has continued to decimate them around the world, including endangered and protected species, and is putting many at a growing risk of extinction.
According to Humane Society International, it’s estimated that up to 100 million sharks are now being killed every year to meet the demand for their fins and parts, which breaks down to 11,000 sharks every single hour.
The Shark Fin Importation Act (S 238), which was just introduced in the House of Commons by Fin Donnelly, would ban the import and export of shark fins in Canada, which is currently believed to be the largest importer outside of East Asia, with a growing market. As Oceana noted, according to Statistics Canada, more than 170,000 kg of shark fins were imported in 2017, which is a 60 percent increase over a period of five years.
“There is a crisis in oceans around the world with the rapid decline of sharks being killed for their fins. Since 2011, five Private Members Bills have been introduced that would ban the trade of shark fins; in that time, nearly one billion sharks have been butchered and killed for their fins,” said Donnelly. “The health of sharks is critical to the health of our marine ecosystems. Canadians expect legislators to protect these apex predators, that’s why I’m happy to sponsor this bill.”
Along with receiving bipartisan support from lawmakers, it’s also being backed by scientists, conservationists, animal advocates, and the family of Canadian filmmaker Rob Stewart, who brought attention to this issue with his films Sharkwater and Sharkwater Extinction before his death.
“We are grateful to MP Fin Donnelly and Senator MacDonald for their leadership in sponsoring this Bill and standing up for ocean conservation. Bill S-238 is an important step towards ending Canadian trade in shark fins. We urge the federal government and Members of Parliament to listen to the overwhelming majority of Canadians who support ending the trade of shark fins in Canada,” said his parents, Brian and Sandy Stewart.
This bill was passed by the Senate this past October, but still needs to be passed by the House. With an upcoming election, there’s no time to waste and the bill’s sponsors and supporters are hoping to get this passed quickly before then.
“With a Federal election expected October 21 it is imperative S-238 gets through debate, review by the Fisheries and Oceans standing committee, third reading and Royal Assent before the election is called,” added Donnelly. “Sharks and the ocean ecosystems that depend on them cannot wait for another election. We must pass this bill and end this destructive practice once and for all.”
This article was first published by Care2.com on 26 Feb 2019.
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