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The Shark Fins Act, which looks to end the import and export of shark fins, received Royal Assent in June 2023 and so is now UK law. This move to protect sharks from this ghastly trade, through reinforcing poorly conceived attempts previously made by the EU, was and is only possible due to Brexit.


The detaching of shark fins, for its sale and use predominantly in the Asia-Pacific region, has been an unwanted but thriving industry in Europe for decades. The EU introduced a partial ban in 2003, but with the loopholes easily navigated the trade did not cease – with the four worst offenders in the EU (Spain, Portugal, France and the UK) being responsible for 13.4% of the total estimated global tonnage of shark fins collected and sold between 2000 and 2008 – with Spain identified as being by some distance the worst offender.

As stated in the 2nd Reading of the Shark Fins Bill, “A Greenpeace Unearthed report published in 2019 showed that, between January 2017 and July 2019, the UK exported 50 tonnes of shark fin to Spain” – where the fins would then be re-exported to China.

Leaving the EU allowed for the UK to introduce a more stringent Bill, that would see a complete ban on both the import and export of illegally harvested shark fins – a ban that has received global praise from animal rights activists and campaign groups. Again, as stated in the 2nd reading of the Bill, “Clause 2 amends article 1 of the shark finning regulation 1185/2003, which forms part of retained EU law, to make sure that shark finning cannot take place by any vessel fishing in UK waters, or by any UK vessel fishing in non-UK waters.”

This independent tightening of what was originally EU law, would not be possible without having left the EU.

Reference: https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3207

Reference: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-introduces-law-banning-international-shark-fin-trade

Reference: https://www.sharktrust.org/news/uk-tightens-law-on-shark-fin-trade

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