Write to Your MP to Support UK Shark Fin Import Ban

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The recent petition calling for a ban on the UK trade in shark fins flew through its target of the 100,000 signatures required for the government to consider the petition for debate. The 'Finspire Change' petition, started by conservation organisation Shark Guardian, garnered 115,380 signatures in total, with a phenomenal 55,000 raised in just the final seven days.

Reaching a target amount of signatures for a petition, however, while certainly a success, does not guarantee any change in the law, nor even that the petition will be debated by parliament – simply that it will be considered.

To help push the government in the right direction, Scuba Industries Trade Association (SITA) board member Rosemary Lunn (Roz) is calling on British divers to write to their MPs and encourage them to support banning the import of shark fins into the UK.

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'There has been sustained lobbying over many years by the likes of Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation and Shark Guardian to ban shark fin imports,' said Lunn. 'Bite-Back has run a number of successful campaigns including "Hacked Off" and "No Fin To Declare". As a result, the charity was able to declare in 2018 that the number of British restaurants serving shark fin soup had reduced by 82 per cent.

'Parliament has been petitioned many times. In the last couple of days, we have seen Shark Guardian’s petition successfully hit critical mass – at the time of writing this, 113,219 people have signed calling for a debate in Parliament. Because over 100,000 have signed, this will now be considered,' said Lunn.

'This is not a time to celebrate. It is just one step in the journey to ban shark fin imports. We now need divers to lobby their local MP to support this Early Day Motion (EDM) so that it gains traction. EDM can fail if high profile and senior MPs from both sides of the house don’t back it.'

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Here at DIVE, we're adding our support to the campaign and encourage our British readers to write to their MPs. You can find the contact details for your local MP at https://members.parliament.uk/members/commons

Roz has kindly shared the following guidelines for contacting your MP and asking them to support the Early Day Motion to completely ban the UK import of shark fins: 

When writing your email, please be polite and to-the-point and make sure you include your name and address so that your MP knows you are a local constituent. Repeated, identical messages are subject to being blocked by spam filters, so it is very important that you use your own words. As guidance, here are some points you can include when writing your message:

    • Say that you are supporting the campaign to ban shark fins being imported in the UK. You can reference the original parliamentary petition at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300535
    • We need a healthy shark population because it helps maintain the balance of our ocean ecosystems. It is estimated that up 100 million sharks are killed each year, 70 per cent of which to support the shark fin trade.
    • Shark finning poses a threat to local economies which rely on eco-tourism
    • While the practice of finning is banned in the EU, there is nothing to stop fins that are illegally harvested elsewhere being processed and then brought into the UK.
    • At present, anyone can bring 20kg of shark fins into the UK 'for personal consumption', without declaring it at the border. Border agents do not have the expertise to identify endangered species or illegally harvested fins from those that are cut from legally caught, sharks. A blanket ban would assist the border agents and prevent the importation of any illegal fins.
    • Canada was the first G20 country to ban the import of shark fins. The UK could be the first European country to ban the import of shark fins. 
    • The British Government has previously that it couldn’t unilaterally ban the import of shark fins due to EU regulations. Once the Brexit transition period passes at the end of this year, Parliament will be able to create its own legislation to ban the trade in shark fins.
    • In response to the petition reaching 10,000 signatures, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) stated on 29 June 2020: 'the UK Government is strongly opposed to shark finning. Shark finning is already banned in UK waters. Having left the EU, the UK can champion conservation measures much more forcefully.' Banning shark finning would definitely count as championing conservation measures 'much more forcefully.'

'We could all use some positive news in this extraordinary year,' said Lunn. 'If we can get our politicians to pass the legislation needed to ban the import of shark fins into the UK, that would certainly be something to celebrate.'





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