MP wants ban on shark finning

Royal City Record, 28 September 2011 By Theresa McManus

New Westminster-Coquitlam MP Fin Donnelly is taking aim at the "brutal" practice of shark finning.

Millions of sharks die annually after having their fins cut off and being thrown back into the ocean. Sharks need to be constantly moving to get oxygen from the water, and they can't swim without their fins.

As global shark populations plummet, Donnelly is consulting with stakeholders to develop legislation to stop the importation of these illegal shark fins into Canada.

"The decline of sharks globally is a conservation crisis that needs immediate attention," said Donnelly, the federal NDP's fisheries critic. "The Canadian government needs to take a leading role in protecting sharks and promoting international ocean stewardship."

Donnelly hopes to introduce federal legislation in the House of Commons in November that will ask for a federal ban on imported shark fins.

"It's illegal to fin sharks in Canada," he said. "The major market is Hong Kong. There are other places that contribute."

Donnelly said Canada MP has two well-managed shark fisheries, one on the West Coast and another on the East Coast.

"They use the entire shark," he said. "They have to land the shark. It doesn't make sense for them to land the shark and dump the carcass." Donnelly said part of his consultation processes would be to determine if Canada's shark fisheries can produce enough sharks to meet market demand.

"Everybody agrees that finning sharks like that is brutal," he said. "The question is, how do you stop that effectively? We are trying to walk a bit of a balance by saying we are going to attack the problem, which is illegal finning."

Donnelly said it's estimated that 26 to 77 million sharks are killed annually, with the majority by finning.

© New West Record