Canada, the First Country to Ban Import/Export of Shark Fins
We here at SeaLuxe headquarters are proud Canadians. Just in time for Canada Day (July 1st for you out-of-country’ers), we are especially proud to wave our red and white flags.
Canada became the first country in the world to impose a wholesale ban on the import and export of shark fins this week. While shark finning has been illegal in Canada since 1994, it was still legal to import from other regions on a wide scale.
More than 300,000 people signed a petition to demand the ban. It is officially called Bill S-238 “A Ban on Shark Fin Importation and Exportation Act” created by Conservative Senator Michael MacDonald and sponsored by NDP MP Fin Donnelly. The bill was also supported by the family of the late Rob Stewart, the conservationist filmmaker behind the Sharkwater series. We have written about Rob on this blog here.
Shark fin soup is very popular in several parts of the world, especially China. As Canada is home to many Chinese people, it was the largest importer of shark fins outside of Asia. In 2018, a whopping 160,000 kiligrams of shark fins were imported to this county alone. Shark fin soup is considered a luxury dish traditionally served at Chinese weddings and banquets.
The ban is being hailed as a win by environmental and conservation groups as well as many others who have compassion for animals and an understanding of the dire consequences of wiping out a species. It is a huge step towards preservation of fish habitats and for the shark population. Shark finning is an intensely cruel practice. When a shark is caught, its fins are hacked off, and the animal is thrown back into the water to die.
Here in Vancouver, city council endorsed a federal ban of shark fins back in May.
“Sharks are so integral to our ecosystem and marine life, so they are threatened with extinction due to the amount of shark finning activity that happens,” Coun. Sarah Kirby-Young told CTV News Vancouver.
The shark population is not healthy. More than 90% of the world’s sharks have been wiped out thanks to fishing, cruel shark finning, and shark mitigation strategies. Between 70 and 100 million sharks die every year. That is unacceptable.
“If there is one message we are trying to get across here is that if we can’t save the whales, and the sharks, and the turtles, the fish, the great whites, and tiger sharks, we are not going to save the oceans. And if the oceans die, we die; we can’t live on this planet with a dead ocean,” said Sea Shepherd conservation group leader Cpt. Paul Watson.
Sharks are important to our ecosystems for a wide range of reasons. To list just a couple:
These fascinating apex predators maintain the species below them in the food chain, serving as an indicator for ocean health. They help remove the weak and the sick as well as keeping the balance with competitors helping to ensure species diversity.
They indirectly maintain the seagrass and corals reef habitats by shifting their prey’s habitats (which then alters the feeding strategy and diets of other species. For instance, without sharks the numbers of larger, predatory fish increase in numbers and feed on the herbivores. Without herbivores, macroalgae expands and coral can no longer compete and dies off.