Government of Canada bans shark finning

Press Release

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

20. June 2019

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Toronto, ON –  Shark finning is a destructive practice that needs a strong and immediate response to stop the devastating impact on global shark populations. As apex predators, sharks play a critical role in keeping other fish populations and ocean ecosystems healthy. A decline in shark populations has a damaging effect to our oceans.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, alongside Humane Society International, Oceana Canada, and the family of Sharkwater director, Rob Stewart, announced that Parliament has adopted important amendments to the Fisheries Act (Bill C-68-An Act to amend the Fisheries Act). Through these amendments we are defining and prohibiting the practice of shark finning and banning the import and export, to and from Canada, of shark fins that are not attached to a shark carcass.  Shark finning refers to the practice of cutting fins from sharks, often while the shark is still alive, and then leaving the shark to die at sea.

The Government of Canada is concerned with the status of endangered shark stocks worldwide due to destructive and damaging practices like shark finning. The amendments to the Fisheries Act reflect the partnerships and advocacy dedicated to addressing this issue across Canada, and are a clear example of Canada’s ongoing commitment to improving the conservation and sustainability of our ocean environment.


“Shark finning is an unquestionably destructive practice, which is contributing to the global decline of sharks and posing an ongoing threat to ocean ecosystems. The new actions announced today are a clear example of Canadian leadership on the conservation of our ocean environment. The Government of Canada, in partnership with the environmental community, is stepping up and doing our part to ensure long term ocean sustainability.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Quick facts

  • The prohibition on shark finning and the import and export of fins that are not attached to the shark are part of legislative amendments to the Fisheries Act under Bill C-68. The Bill passed the Senate on June 18 and is awaiting Royal Assent.
  • Canada does not have a commercial fishery for sharks.
  • Since 1994, Canada has prohibited shark finning as a condition of a fish harvesters’ licence.
  • In March 2018, the government implemented measures that require all sharks landed in Canada to have their fins naturally attached.
  • All sharks caught in Canadian domestic fisheries must be landed at the dock with their fins naturally attached. This is considered the global best practice to prevent shark finning.
  • According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 25 per cent of the world’s sharks and ray species are threatened by extinction, and each year an estimated 63 million sharks are killed in fisheries.
  • Sharks grow relatively slowly, take many years to mature and produce relatively few offspring. It is estimated that sharks are being killed 30 per cent faster than they can replace themselves.
  • Approximately 400 species of sharks are found in the world.

Source: Government of Canada

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