The speech made by Darren Henry, the Conservative MP for Broxtowe, in the House of Commons on 15 July 2022.
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I thank the hon. Member for Neath (Christina Rees) for introducing this Bill. As a Nottinghamshire MP, I am glad she was able to mention Shark Guardian, as that organisation in Nottinghamshire has done so well. Out of more than 500 species of shark that we have worldwide, 143 are listed as under threat by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with the different species ranging from those that are considered “vulnerable” to those that are “critically endangered”. As she alluded to, sharks are on top of the natural marine food chain because of their limited number of natural predators. Their importance to marine ecosystems cannot be overestimated, so I am very happy to see this Bill today.
Sharks are often characterised in film and media as aggressive. The films we show our kids, such as “Finding Nemo” and “Shark Tale,” add to this characterisation but, by nature, sharks are not natural predators of humans. They are far more likely to ensure that they do not come into contact with us, rather than to attack, so education is key.
Education about sharks is crucial to ensuring a more universal effort to protect them and to prevent a further threat of extinction. As with most industries, the supply of shark fins is driven by demand. By banning the importation and exportation of detached shark fins, we will ensure that demand is lowered and that more species of endangered sharks are protected. The Government published their action plan for animal welfare in May 2021, but we must go further. Protecting animals from extinction is vital, and this Bill is a fantastic first step towards ensuring that animal welfare and animal protection are made a priority.