Canada bans shark finning; fins cut while shark is still alive

Toronto: Canada has banned shark finning as it has a devastating impact on global shark populations.

Shark finning is the practice of cutting fins from sharks, often while the shark is still alive, and then leaving the shark to die at sea.

As apex predators, sharks play a critical role in keeping other fish populations and ocean ecosystems healthy. A decline in shark populations has a damaging effect to oceans.

The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard, Jonathan Wilkinson, alongside Humane Society International, Oceana Canada, and the family of Sharkwater director, Rob Stewart, announced that Parliament has adopted important amendments to the Fisheries Act (Bill C-68-An Act to amend the Fisheries Act).

Through these amendments we shark finning has been defined and prohibited and import and export of shark fins that are not attached to a shark carcass are banned.

The Government of Canada is concerned with the status of endangered shark stocks worldwide due to destructive and damaging practices like shark finning. The amendments to the Fisheries Act reflect the partnerships and advocacy dedicated to addressing this issue across Canada, and are a clear example of Canada’s ongoing commitment to improving the conservation and sustainability of ocean environment.

“Shark finning is an unquestionably destructive practice, which is contributing to the global decline of sharks and posing an ongoing threat to ocean ecosystems. The new actions announced today are a clear example of Canadian leadership on the conservation of our ocean environment. The Government of Canada, in partnership with the environmental community, is stepping up and doing our part to ensure long term ocean sustainability,” said Wilkinson.

Quick Facts:

  • The prohibition on shark finning and the import and export of fins that are not attached to the shark are part of legislative amendments to the Fisheries Act under Bill C-68. The Bill passed the Senate on June 18 and is awaiting Royal Assent.
  • Canada does not have a commercial fishery for sharks.
  • Since 1994, Canada has prohibited shark finning as a condition of a fish harvesters’ licence.
  • In March 2018, the government implemented measures that require all sharks landed in Canada to have their fins naturally attached.
  • All sharks caught in Canadian domestic fisheries must be landed at the dock with their fins naturally attached. This is considered the global best practice to prevent shark finning.
  • According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 25 per cent of the world’s sharks and ray species are threatened by extinction, and each year an estimated 63 million sharks are killed in fisheries.
  • Sharks grow relatively slowly, take many years to mature and produce relatively few offspring. It is estimated that sharks are being killed 30 per cent faster than they can replace themselves.
  • Approximately 400 species of sharks are found in the world. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – Sharks and manta rays.

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