Prof. Dirk SteinkeThe Ban on Shark Fin Importation Act was passed in the Canadian Senate on Oct. 23.

“This is an important step forward to stop the shark fin trade,” says Prof. Dirk Steinke, an adjunct professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at U of G.

Banning the importation of shark fins is an amendment that has been made to the Fisheries Act and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (importation of shark fins) that will add an extra layer of protection to at-risk species, he says.

Sharks are among the most threatened wildlife worldwide, and the shark fin trade is the main source of shark mortality, explains Steinke. Although shark finning or removing fins from live sharks is illegal in Canada, demand exists for fins for use in medicines and in foods and traditional dishes such as shark fin soup.

Steinke released a study on DNA barcoding last summer that found 71 per cent of dried fins and gills collected from markets and stores came from species listed as at-risk and therefore banned from international trade.

He says sharks play a vital role in maintaining healthy oceans, and their ongoing decline creates unintended consequences.

“A nationwide ban will reduce the international fin trade and make Canada a leader in shark conservation.”

He is available for media interviews.

Prof. Dirk Steinke