UK cannot take action to ban shark fin imports
Hansard – UK House of Commons debates
Written Answers to Questions
Monday 25 June 2012
House of Commons Commission
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Question by Graham Jones:
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration she has given to banning shark fin imports. 
Answer by Richard Benyon (MP and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – Defra) :
The UK Government is aware of the conservation implications of the international trade in shark fins and the need for more stringent controls to ensure any such trade is rooted in sustainable fishing practices. While the UK has banned shark finning (removal and retention of shark fins at sea, but discarding the carcass), the Government does not oppose fisheries for species where scientific advice indicates that they can be sustainably exploited. However, we do promote the full utilisation of the shark.
The UK cannot unilaterally take action to ban shark fin imports without contravening EU trade agreements and World Trade Organisation (WTO) obligations.
However, we are not complacent. We believe the market for shark fin products in the UK is on the decrease and we will continue to support campaigns like ‘Bite-Back’ that raise public awareness and change consumer and retailer behaviour.
We will also continue to work closely with the Shark Trust to ensure sharks are properly managed and conserved globally. We consider that the most effective means of protecting sharks is by continuing to press for a range of international conservation and management measures within the appropriate bodies. This includes pushing for changes within the EU and internationally to ensure all sharks are landed with their ‘fins naturally attached’ (thus removing the possibility of shark finning occurring) and supporting scientifically robust proposals for regulating the international trade in shark products through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
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Source: UK Parliament