Friday 16th June, Westminster

The Shark Fins Bill completed its passage through both Houses of Westminster today – with the Third Reading in the House of Lords led by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch, and supported unanimously by Peers from all sides. The Shark Trust watched proceedings with interest, acknowledging this historic step.

Shark finning was banned in Europe and as a result the UK in 2003. In 2009 the UK took steps to tighten shark finning regulation, while the EU took until 2013 to adopt legislation requiring sharks to be landed with their fins still naturally attached – thus prohibiting the legal landing of detached fins.  The Shark Fins Bill will now enshrine Fins Naturally Attached into UK law. And whilst not an all-out ban on shark fin consumption and trade, the Bill prohibits the import and export of detached shark fins, whether loose or in products – creating a more challenging environment for would be traders and simplifying enforcement.

Christina Rees MP introduced the Bill to The House of Commons in 2022 as a Private Members Bill, which successfully garnered cross-party support. The Bill then passed to ‘the other House’ in January 2023, where Baroness Jones of Whitchurch led the debate in the Lords. The Peers demonstrated a clear grasp of the issues involved, and shark finning and the fin trade were discussed as a facet of overfishing. The UK government was widely encouraged to champion shark conservation actions in global fora.

“I’m pleased to have played a small part in bringing an end to this cruel and wasteful practice,” said Baroness Jones of Whitchurch, “but the real thanks should go to the shark and marine conservation charities who did so much to highlight the need for a ban.”

Christina Rees, MP for Neath and Port Talbot added, “It has been a great privilege to take this hugely important Bill through the House of Commons, and I am delighted to see it reach its Third Reading in the House of Lords. Shark finning is an abhorrent and cruel practice, which is not only torturous for the animal but also massively wasteful.”

Rees continued saying, “I want to put on record my thanks to campaigners in the marine conservation charities, including Shark Guardian, the Shark Trust, and Biteback, who have worked tirelessly to throw a spotlight on this barbaric procedure and highlight the need to establish a law to prevent it happening. My thanks also go to Baroness Jones of Whitchurch, for all her hard work in ensuring the Bill’s orderly passage through the Lords.”

This Bill represents years of work and is the culmination of the leadership role taken by the UK on shark finning regulation. The Shark Trust is pleased to have been able to play its part in this process, providing briefings and expertise at many junctures. Massive thanks to all the organisations and members of the public who have so passionately called for tighter finning regulation – we hope that they might now support ongoing efforts to address overfishing of which shark finning is an element.

All being well, Royal Assent should follow in the coming months, transforming the Bill to an Act.