TORONTO - With Canadian filmmaker and ecological activist Rob Stewart’s Sharkwater Extinction showing on screens across the country, many Canadians are wondering how they can play their part in ending the cruel and ecologically disastrous practice of killing sharks for their fins. This month, Oceana Canada is calling on concerned Canadians to sign its petition to support the passage of Bill S-238, the Ban on Shark Fin Importation Act, which has just passed in the Senate and is now under review in the House of Commons.
“Rob devoted his life to changing the public perception of sharks, to protecting the oceans and to ending the horrible practice of shark finning,” said Brian and Sandy Stewart, Rob Stewart’s parents. “The shark fin ban is one step closer to Rob's vision of a sustainable beautiful planet for everyone; we encourage all Canadians to be part of Rob's mission, to support the legislation and set an example for the world to follow."
Every year, the fins of up to 73 million sharks end up on the global market. The process of shark finning is a brutal and wasteful practice. It involves cutting the fins off the shark – often still alive – and then tossing the animal back into the ocean where it either drowns, bleeds to death or is eaten by another animal. Though the process of finning is illegal in Canadian waters, it remains legal to import fins.
“Canada is the largest importer of shark fins outside of Asia," said Kim Elmslie, Campaign Director, Oceana Canada. "In 2017, Canada imported 60 per cent more fins than it did in 2012. Bill S-238 is crucial in our fight to save these graceful predators. There’s no coming back from extinction, but there’s still time to help save sharks."
Research by the University of Guelph found fins of several endangered and vulnerable sharks — including whale sharks, great hammerhead sharks and short fin mako sharks — have been sold in Canada. Of the fin and gill plate samples collected, more than half were species listed as endangered or threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
“Shark populations are now dwindling. One of the main causes of this devastation is the market for their fins,” says Senator Michael MacDonald who introduced Bill S-238. “This devastation isn’t just dire for sharks – it should be alarming for humans too. Many of the large shark species are top apex predators and impact ecosystems in significant ways. The onus is on us as legislators to take action.”
Bill S-238 was passed by the Senate last week, now it needs to be reviewed and passed by the House of Commons before it becomes law. Canadians can encourage members of parliament to ban the import and export of shark fins from our country by signing Oceana Canada’s petition (change.org/FinBanNow) and speaking out on social media using #FinBanNow.
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For more information, please contact: David Berry, Pilot PMR, 416-462-0199 x248, 416-738-8730, firstname.lastname@example.org
About Oceana Canada
Oceana Canada is an independent charity and is part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Canada has the longest coastline in the world, with an ocean surface area of 7.1 million square kilometres, or 70 per cent of its landmass. Oceana Canada believes that Canada has a national and global obligation to manage our natural resources responsibly and help ensure a sustainable source of protein for the world’s growing population. Oceana Canada works with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada’s oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits, and protect our future.