Australia could end its involvement in the international shark fin trade with one simple amendment
Wildlife protection organisations have asked the federal Trade Minister to end Australia’s involvement in the global shark fin trade. According to legal advice received by the groups, such a regulation could pass easily through the parliament.
The international trade in shark fins is a significant sustainability issue, a prime cause of the global decline in shark populations and a major threat to the long-term survival of shark species. There are also significant animal welfare concerns with this trade. In many countries from which shark fin is exported, shark fisheries are largely unregulated meaning fins are removed at sea and the shark is dumped overboard to die.
Humane Society International (HSI), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), World Animal Protection and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) have asked Minister Steve Ciobo to place shark fins on the prohibited imports and exports list of Australia’s Customs regulations.
Josh Coates, Fisheries and Sustainable Seafood Campaigner at AMCS said, “Finning sharks is a significant driver in the global decrease in shark populations. We have an opportunity to show global leadership and set an example that would help other countries struggling to manage conservation and sustainable use of their marine environment. In 2015, Australia exported over 3,000kg of shark fin products and imported comparable weight from countries such as China, Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Philippines. Considering even the largest shark fin may end up weighing just a few kilograms after drying and that fins make up only a very small percentage of the whole sharks weight, these figures indicate the vast numbers of sharks which are being killed for this international trade.”
Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns at World Animal Protection said, “Around the world it is common for sharks to be finned alive and their bodies discarded. There are rules against the cruel practice of finning at sea in Australia, but we should not import fins obtained through such cruelty overseas. Removing Australia from the international shark fin trade is the best way to ensure that we are not contributing to demand for these products.”
Alexia Wellbelove, Senior Program Manager at HSI said, “It is time for Australia to take a stand against this cruel and unsustainable practice. The Australian Government could act unilaterally to end Australia’s international trade in shark fin products by a simple amendment to our Customs regulations. There is already precedent for this action, with the Australian Government having previously taken action to protect the threatened Antarctic and Patagonian Toothfish after concerns that it was being subject to illegal fishing by foreign vessels.”
HSI, IFAW, World Animal Protection and AMCS urge the Australian Government to take action to end Australia’s involvement in the international shark fin trade which only serves to feed international and domestic demand for shark fins.