Today, King Charles III has signed into law a ban on the import and export of shark fins – exciting news that puts the UK at the forefront of global shark conservation and represents an important blow to the shark-fin trade.
At the same time, it marks the culmination of eight years campaigning by Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation. Since 2015, their No Fin To Declare campaign has exposed the UK's dark and controversial involvement in the shark-fin trade, achieved national broadcast and print media, engaged politicians, enrolled celebrities, prompted petitions and, in the last 12 months, helped steer a private members‘ bill through parliament for Royal Assent.
Graham Buckingham, Campaign director for Bite-Back, said: “This is a huge day for shark conservation and proof that persistence pays off. For the sake of the oceans, we hope this news will encourage other countries to follow the UK's lead and put an end to the devastating, barbaric and needless trade in shark fins.”
The charity is quick to acknowledge the visionary work of Christina Rees MP and Baroness Maggie Jones in Parliament and the House of Lords that has taken this private members bill all the way to the palace.
TV presenter, wildlife expert and patron of Bite-Back, Steve Backshall MBE, said: “This news puts the UK at the vanguard of shark conservation. Huge congratulations to Bite-Back, who have made this its lifetime work, and thank you to everyone who has followed, supported and been involved in this landmark victory for sharks.”
The Shark Trust was also quick to celebrate the historic news. “The Shark Fins Act now enshrines Fins Naturally Attached into UK law,” said Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust. The Act not only applies to UK fisheries but also prohibits the import and export of detached shark fins, whether loose or in products. And while not an all-out ban on shark fin consumption and trade, Hood says, “this creates a more-challenging environment for would-be traders, simplifying customs checks, and enabling the UK to hold other countries to the same standards to which we hold ourselves.”
Christina Rees, MP for Neath and Port Talbot added, “It has been a great privilege to take this hugely important Act through the House of Commons, and I am delighted to see it receive Royal Assent.”
Rees continued saying, “I want to put on record my thanks to campaigners in the marine conservation charities, including Bite-Back, The Shark Trust, and Shark Guardian, who have worked tirelessly to highlight the need to establish a law. My thanks also go to Baroness Jones of Whitchurch, for all her hard work in ensuring the Act’s orderly passage through the Lords.”
“I’m pleased to have played a small part in bringing an end to this cruel and wasteful practice,” said Baroness Jones of Whitchurch, “but the real thanks should go to the shark and marine conservation charities who did so much to highlight the need for a ban.”