Sharks: Animal Products

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Fisheries, Flooding and Water)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps she is taking to prevent the export of shark fins from the UK.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Fisheries, Flooding and Water)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many tons of shark fins were exported from the UK in each of the last five years.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

In 2014, 2015 and 2016 there were no exports of shark fin products. In 2017 there were 50 tonnes exported and in 2018 there were 35 tonnes exported.

The UK has banned shark finning through the EU Council resolution 605/2013 that states that all sharks must be landed with their fins naturally attached to the carcass to reduce the risk of finning occurring. We continue to champion this provision being adopted globally.

There are no legal constraints on exporting shark fins from the UK per se. However, we have domestic legislation (e.g. the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Tope Order) which places emphasis on conservation of threatened or endangered species, establishing a legal framework for the protection of such species as well as jurisdiction over fisheries.

In addition to domestic legislation, there is regional protection through rules in the Common Fisheries Policy – either through prohibitions, catch limits and/or gear restrictions (e.g. deep sea net restrictions), and through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs).

We also have international protection through a number of agreements such as the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS) and the Sharks MoU.

The UK continues to press for stronger regional and international controls. The UK played a leading role in successfully championing the listing of an additional 18 shark species to appendix II of CITES at the Conference on Parties in August this year. A CITES listing provides significant conservation benefit by ensuring trade is monitored and can only take place in a sustainable manner.

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