Fin Donnelly, Member of Parliament for Port-Moody-Coquitlam, is sponsoring Bill S-238, the Ban on Shark Fin Importation Act, which passed in the Senate late last year and will now be reviewed by the House of Commons.
This bill, introduced by Senator Michael MacDonald, would prohibit the import and export of shark fins into and out of Canada.
McDonald’s bill was based on Donnelly’s Private Member’s bill, which was narrowly defeated by five votes in the House of Commons in 2013.
At the time, Donnelly’s bill had support from the NDP and Liberal caucuses. He hopes the Liberals, who now account for a majority in the House of Commons, will support the bill again.
With a federal election expected October 21 it is imperative S-238 gets through debate and is reviewed by the Fisheries and Oceans standing committee before the House rises in June.
The bill has also been widely supported by conservationists, marine scientists, animal welfare advocates, and the family of Canadian Filmmaker and shark advocate, Rob Stewart.
Stewart is best known for his 2006 documentary film, Sharkwater, which focuses on global shark hunting and its impact on oceans. In 2017, he was actively filming a sequel called Sharkwater Extinction when he died at sea.
The Stewart family also supports bill S-238 and the continued fight to protect sharks and conserve oceans.
There is a crisis in oceans around the world with the rapid decline of sharks being killed for their fins. Scientists estimate 73 million sharks are killed each year to satisfy the global demand for shark fin soup.
Most of these sharks will have their fins cut off at sea, usually while still alive, then be discarded overboard to drown or bleed to death. This horrific practice, known as ‘shark finning’, is devastating global shark populations.
Scientific studies have shown many shark populations have declined by more than 80 per cent in only a few decades, with some declines as high as 99 per cent. Currently, 141 species of shark are listed as threatened or near-threatened. Canada is contributing to these plummeting numbers.
Although shark finning has been banned in Canada since 1994, the importation of shark fins is still permitted. It’s inconsistent and should stop.
In 2015, Canada imported over 144,000 kilograms of shark fin—a 36 per cent increase since 2012. Canada is a relatively small player in the world market compared to Hong Kong and mainland China, but Canada is the largest importer of shark fins outside East Asia, according to the United Nations.
As apex predators, sharks play a critical role in maintaining the health of our oceans. Canadians expect us to do a better job protecting and preserving them.
You can support Fin Donnelly’s Shark Fin bill, by writing to or calling your Member of Parliament and urging them to support S-238. Visit www.FinDonnelly.ca for more information.