Dive industry stalwart and SITA Board Member Rosemary E Lunn is calling on British divers to write to their MP, to encourage them to support banning the import of shark fins into the UK.
“There has been a sustained lobbying over many years by the likes of Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation and Shark Guardian to ban shark-fin imports. Bite-Back has run a number of successful campaigns including ‘Hacked Off’ and ‘No Fin To Declare’. As a result the charity was able to declare in 2018 that the number of British restaurants serving shark fin soup had reduced by 82 percent.” she said.
“Parliament has been petitioned many times. In the last couple of days we have seen Shark Guardian’s petition successfully hit critical mass – at the time of writing this, 113,219 people have signed calling for a debate in Parliament. Because over 100,000 have signed, this will now be considered.
“This is not a time to celebrate. It is just one step in the journey to ban shark-fin imports. We now need divers to lobby their local MP to support this Early Day Motion so that it gains traction. EDM can fail if high profile and senior MPs from both sides of the house don’t back it.”
When writing your email, please consider the following:
1) Be polite and to-the-point
2) Include your name and address so that your MP knows you are a local constituent
Unfortunately, it seems that identical messages being sent to MP can be blocked, so it is very important that you use your own words. As guidance, here are some points you can include when writing your message:
· We need a healthy shark population because it helps maintain the balance of our ocean ecosystems. The World Wildlife Fund states that around 100 million sharks may be killed annually
· Shark finning poses a threat to local economies who rely on eco-tourism.
· While the practice of finning is banned in the EU, there is nothing to stop fins being chopped off in waters around the world, being processed in the Far East, and then brought into Britain.
· At present anyone can carry in 20kg of shark fins into the UK – you don’t need to declare it. Our border agents do not have the expertise to say ‘that one’s an endangered species, that one’s not'. A blanket ban would assist and empower our overstretched border agents.
· This would be a very positive piece of legislation and Parliament now have the power to pass it. The British Government has previously said its hands were tied – it couldn’t unilaterally ban the import of shark fins while tied to Brussels. Once the Brexit transition period passes at the end of this year Parliament will be able to vote to ban the import of shark fins into Great Britain.
· DEFRA has already given its blessing for this to happen. DEFRA stated on 29 June 2020 ‘the UK Government is strongly opposed to shark finning. Shark finning is already banned in UK waters. Having left the EU, the UK can champion conservation measures much more forcefully'.
· Ask your MP to please support the Bill. You can direct them to this Parliament Petition.
Rosemary concluded: “We could all use some positive news in this extraordinary year. If we can get our politicians to pass the legislation needed to ban the import of shark fins into the UK, that would certainly be something to celebrate.”