Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Shark Finning – How Municipal Laws in Canada are Saving Sharks & Setting an International Example

Mbour (Senegal)Mbour (Senegal) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Ryan Venables


Arguably, for the first time since the dinosaurs disappeared, humans are driving animals and plants to extinction faster than new species can evolve, one of the world’s experts on biodiversity has warned. Additionally, conservation experts have already signaled that the world is in the grip of the ‘sixth great extinction’ of species, driven by the destruction of natural habitats, hunting, the spread of alien predators and disease, and climate change.

As time passes and we continue to march into the future, it is easy to see that unless more is done to protect vulnerable species, the list of near threatened, endangered, critically endangered, extinct in the wild, and extinct species will continue to grow. Considering Earth’s oceans span approximately 361,419,000 square kilometers or just under 71% of the global surface, I would suggest particular importance should to be given to ensure this resource is protected for the benefit of all who utilize its resources I would further suggest, at the top of the list for protection are the various species of sharks.

Globally, sharks have been under attack for approximately the last 20 years for the value of their fins. Estimates reveal that between 70 and 100 million sharks are killed annually for their fins, which can be valued at up to $300 USD per pound. However, despite the systematic targeting of sharks for their fins, all is not lost. Awareness is being raised, and a global cause to save the sharks, and to protect their fins is growing.

As a result, the focus of this paper will examine many new municipal laws that have recently been enacted which are not only protecting the sharks, but also leading to an outright ban on shark fin products. I would suggest these municipalities are leading a global crusade and are setting an international example on the importance of sharks, and how Earth’s oceans are dependent on sharks as apex predators. I would further suggest Canadian federal laws follow suit and adopt laws which not only outlaw the finning of sharks, but place a wholesale ban on the importation on shark fins. For the purposes of this paper, I will focus on the following issues surrounding shark finning.


Kathy Dowsett
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