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 thank my hon. Friend for her intervention. Again, my knowledge of sharks is not the greatest. The only great white shark I have ever seen was in the film “Jaws”, and that was mechanical. But I take on board what my hon. Friend says.

This is an important and serious debate. Some 250 sharks are killed every day. Between 2000 and 2008, the net combined shark tonnage reported by four EU member states—the hon. Member for Neath touched on this—was higher than that reported by the world’s No. 1 shark fishing country, Indonesia. Spain, Portugal, France and the UK made up 13.4% of the tonnage figures, which is way too much. Obviously, that was when we were a member of the EU—thankfully, we have come out of it now. A Greenpeace Unearthed report published in 2019 showed that, between January 2017 and July 2019, the UK exported 50 tonnes of shark fin to Spain. Again, that was mentioned by the hon. Member for Neath. That figure included 29.7 tonnes in 2018 and 12 tonnes in the first months of 2019.

To outlaw the cruelty of finning at sea, it was decreed that sharks must be landed with their fins naturally attached, as has been mentioned. The buzzword is “retention”—returning the whole shark is a practical way to limit total shark catch.

We have also mentioned the consumption of shark for food, including shark fin soup. People actually see this wonderful animal almost as a delicacy. That means that more sharks will be killed in the future. I have not actually tried any shark dish. I am not a vegan like the hon. Member for Neath, but shark is not something that would appeal to me—I would prefer to go to my local Spinners Fisheries in Earlsheaton for haddock and chips. But I appreciate that this is going to be a problem in the near future.

In summary, I am fully supportive of the Bill. My hon. Friend Jill Mortimer mentioned that we have a proud record of animal welfare in the UK—in fact, we are in the top four countries globally in that respect. I appreciate the Bill, I fully support it and I thank all Members for listening.