LONDON (UK)- An important win for sharks! The British government today announced a ban on the import and export of shark fins. Thanks to successful campaigns by British shark conservation organizations.

The new legislation will require all imported and exported shark fins to remain attached to the shark carcass and only traded as a whole commodity. The ban on shark fins is part of an broader Action Plan to improve the welfare and conservation of animals at home and abroad.

Celebration of this great news. Image by Shark Guardian.

Shark Guardian

In march 2020 Shark Guardian ambassador Robin Gallagher started the UK Government Petition #300535 against shark finning. The conservation organization also launched the campaign #FinspireChangeUK & #BanSharkFinUK and in September last year the petition ended with 115,380 signatures.

In direct response to the Shark Guardian campaign and successful petition, the UK Government launched a ‘Call for Evidence on the status of the Shark Fin trade in the UK’ in december. Shark Guardian provided detailed information and continued direct communication with the UK Government (DEFRA: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.


Another organization working on protection of sharks, Bite-Back, erupted in celebratory cheers as the news came in that the government is set to ban the import and export of shark fins. The announcement is the culmination of six years hard work by the team, from the moment it first exposed the loophole in the law that permitted anyone to bring 20kg of shark fins through UK borders, to the series of behind-the-scenes meetings with Lord Zac Goldsmith and DEFRA.

“This is the moment we’ve all been working towards since 2015”, says campaign director, Graham Buckingham in a reaction on the website. “Our tireless #NoFinToDeclare campaign ticked all the environmental, emotional and political boxes, creating an argument that was impossible to ignore. It’s been a long, hard slog but we’ve achieved something that will help safeguard shark populations forever. And that feels amazing. It’s an incredibly happy day.”

The news has also been celebrated by high profile supporters including wildlife TV presenter Steve Backshall MBE and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who both endorsed the charity’s campaign, calling for a post-Brexit ban of the personal import allowance of shark fins to the UK.

Dead sharks without fins. Image by Bite-Back.
Dead sharks without fins. Image by Bite-Back.


Before Britain left the EU it had been bound by outdated legislation that permits anyone to carry up to 20kg of dried shark fins into and across European borders as part of their personal import allowance. Sadly, this loophole has been exploited by the shark fin trade to legally ‘smuggle’ fins undetected for decades.

Graham said: “This news will come as a blow to a global industry that is forcing sharks closer to the brink of extinction. We’re enormously grateful to the government for using Brexit to side-step this archaic EU legislation. We hope and believe this announcement will encourage other European countries to impose similar constraints.”

So the UK bans shark fins, now it’s time for the rest of Europe to follow! Every year still about 73 million sharks are killed, often just for their fins. One in four shark species is now either endangered or threatened forcing populations of iconic shark species including great whites, hammerheads, oceanic whitetips and threshers to a tiny fraction of those recorded 50 years ago.

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