Human activities and their interference in marine wildlife has caused much harm to the environment and the practice of shark finning is one such activity. Shark finning is the practice of capturing a shark and removing its fins after which the animal is discarded back into the sea alive where it dies a slow and painful death. Shark fins are highly valued in human trade and provide profits to fishermen. Taking a step towards protecting the sharks from such cruel practice, the government the United Kingdom has announced that it will be banning the import and export of detached shark fins.
Lord Goldsmith, the International Ocean Minister said in a press release on Sunday,“Shark finning is indescribably cruel and causes thousands of sharks to die terrible deaths. It is also unforgivably wasteful.” He mentioned that although the practice of shark finning is banned in UK waters, the trade continues, with serious implications for the future of the marine creatures. The official statement of the UK government also mentioned that the demand for shark fin products is a significant driver for significant population pressure of sharks, alongside over-fishing. With the help of new legislation banning detached fins from being brought into the UK, protection of wild populations of shark species will be ensured. Some of the endangered shark species who have fallen prey to the illegal finning practice are: shortfin mako shark and overfished blue shark, which have both declined rapidly as a result of unsustainable fishing practices.
The ban will not only restrict the import of and export of detached shark fins but also extend to products which contain shark fins including soup and other products. Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust, Ali Hood welcomed the move and said, “It is encouraging to see the UK addressing the fin trade as an element of overfishing: the principal threat to sharks and rays.”
Shark Conservationist James Glancy said that the marine animal has been around for millions of years and plays a crucial role for the health of the oceans, however he mentioned that the human activity has caused many shark species to decline critically and face extinction in some regions.
In 2004, the first international prohibition on shark finning was adopted by the sixty-three member countries of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), as part of a suite of shark measures.