OTTAWA – Canada has passed the halfway mark in prohibiting the trade of shark fins with Member of Parliament Fin Donnelly tabling Bill S-238, the Ban on Shark Fin Trade Act, into the House of Commons today. The Bill, introduced by Senator Michael MacDonald in 2017, passed by an overwhelming margin by the Senate in late October.
Conservationists, marine scientists, animal welfare advocates, and the family of filmmaker Rob Stewart are calling on the federal government to pass this bill as a matter of urgency.
Julie MacInnes, wildlife campaign manager for Humane Society International/Canada, stated: “Since 2011, five federal Private Members Bills have been introduced that would ban the trade in shark fins; over just these past eight years, nearly one billion sharks have been butchered and killed for their fins. The sharks – and the ocean ecosystems that depend on them – do not have another election to wait. We are urging MPs to support S-238 and stop this destructive practise once and for all.”
The bill’s House sponsor, MP Fin Donnelly, stated: “Members of Parliament and the Canadian government must act swiftly on this urgent matter to ensure Canada plays a key role in protecting sharks globally, which are vital to sustain ocean ecosystems.”
Brian and Sandy Stewart, parents of the late Rob Stewart, issued the following statement: “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.”
Marine scientist Dr. Dirk Steinke, added: “There is scientific consensus that sharks are among the most threatened wildlife worldwide, which makes this all the more disconcerting. We are hopeful that Canada will take the necessary leadership in ending the shark fin trade.”
The proposed legislation was amended in the Senate so that it prohibits not only the import of shark fins into Canada, but also prohibits their export. Bill S-238 now awaits debate and a vote at Second Reading.
- Shark finning is the practice of cutting off a shark’s fin and discarding the animal at sea to die a slow and painful death. It is an exceptionally cruel and ecologically reckless practice that puts entire ocean ecosystems at risk.
- HSI/Canada has campaigned to end the shark fin trade for more than a decade. Globally, HSI has been at the forefront of a powerful movement to protect sharks and stop the trade of their fins through education, outreach, and legislative efforts.
- Canada is the largest importer of shark fins outside of Asia.
- Every year, up to 100 million sharks are killed to satisfy global demand for their fins and their parts, threatening one-third of open ocean sharks with extinction. Every single hour, over 11,000 sharks are killed in the gruesome international shark fin trade.
- As an apex predator, sharks hold the oceans in balance and their extinction would have significant effects on all other marine species.
- Sharks grow slowly, mature late, and have relatively low rates of reproduction, making their populations highly vulnerable to the impacts of overfishing.
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