Shark Fins Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:59 pm on 15th July 2022.

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Photo of Mark Eastwood Mark Eastwood Conservative, Dewsbury 12:59 pm, 15th July 2022

I congratulate Christina Rees on introducing the Bill. I have to say I do not profess to know an awful lot about sharks, but I was interested to hear about her holiday experience and encounter with a shark. I hope not to have the same encounter in the future.

Obviously, this is an important Bill. To learn some of the background to the shark fin debate, I did some research. As the hon. Lady said, sharks are older than dinosaurs, which means they are also older than Members who reside in the other House. Sharks grow up to 50,000 teeth in their lifetime. Let us hope they do not need access to an NHS dentist, because we know how problematic that can be. Sharks have the thickest skin of any animal species, and it feels like sandpaper. As an ex-sales person and someone who has probably had a bit too much time in the sun, I can appreciate how sharks feel.

Sharks can be found in all oceans and they can only swim forwards. I am bringing out some interesting facts, although I do not have the expert knowledge of my hon. Friend Darren Henry on this subject. Shark’s teeth are not used for chewing—they are for snapping, crushing and maiming prey, which makes them sound like ideal candidates for Chief Whip in this House.

I have come across a number of shark facts. Shark attacks are extremely rare. It is more likely that we will kill sharks—100 million sharks are killed a year, but only four people are killed by a shark each year. That means that we kill 25 million more sharks than sharks kill us, and it is not acceptable.

I was hoping to talk about prehistoric shark fossils in today’s debate, but I’m afraid I struggled to find any ancient sharkefacts—[Interruption.] I appreciate the groans on that one. I was hoping to tell a long line of dad jokes today. Sharks can be dangerous. I know that they are gentle, as my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe suggested. They can attack, but it is a rare occurrence. Reports of attacks are more frequent in the Atlantic than the Pacific. That is because people who reside in the Atlantic areas tend to have greater access to the internet. It does not mean to say that there are more attacks; it is just that there are more reported attacks. In 2018, the United States led the world, with the highest number of reported shark attacks, according to ISAF, the international shark attack file. Within the continental United States, more shark-human incidents occurred in the Atlantic ocean. Only four attacks were reported in the Pacific, compared with 27 in the Atlantic. That is because people have the technology.

The distribution of the 108 authenticated unprovoked shark attacks among victim groups is: divers 50, surfers 41, swimmers 12 and kayakers five. It is a rare thing to happen. However, Madam Deputy Speaker, if you think that the shark-infested waters of the Atlantic are bad, try being in this place when there is a Tory leadership contest on.

On a serious note, I am here to support the Bill rather than crack some very poor dad jokes.