Efforts to protect worldwide shark populations will reach State Parliament today, with Greens South West MLC Diane Evers to table a Bill aimed at stopping the sale of shark fin products in Western Australia.
Ms Evers, The Greens (WA) fisheries spokesperson, will propose banning the sale of food containing shark fins as part of the Shark Fin Prohibition Bill, with possible fines rising to $250,000.
Corporations will receive the heaviest penalties under the terms of the Bill, while offending individuals will be liable to fines of $50,000.
Shark finning is an offence for federal and WA fisheries and involves removing fins from a live shark and returning it to the ocean to drown.
It is reported that thousands of kilograms of shark fins are imported into Australia each year through loopholes in existing regulations.
There have been previous efforts in Australian jurisdictions such as New South Wales to implement bans on the sale of shark fin food products, such as shark fin soup.
Many jurisdictions have implemented their own specific bans on shark finning, while some, including various US states and territories, have gone even further and implemented direct bans on possessing shark fins.
Ms Evers, who has been vocal in the past about the harmful effects of baited shark drumline trials in South West waters, said the Bill would go some way towards removing threats to open-water shark populations.
QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO DIANE EVERS MLC:
“This Bill is a clear, measured and important step in our work towards ending the inhumane and wasteful practice of shark finning.
“The international community recognises that shark finning damages species and ecosystems, while shark fins have not been established to offer any scientific health benefits.
“Unfortunately, foods such as shark fin soup continue to be offered in restaurants as a delicacy.
“The introduction of offences in this Bill, which clearly prohibit the sale of food containing shark fins, will close significant loopholes and assist with enforcement in the food and fisheries areas.
“Private individuals making or consuming food containing fins will not be captured by the offence provisions, as long as the product is originally purchased as a whole shark.
“This ensures that the offences are targeted to the commercialisation of the shark finning practice rather than activities of consumers.
“There are also provisions within the Bill to safeguard commercial fishers acting in compliance with fisheries regulations.
“The proposed amendments to the Food Act 2008 will improve food standards and ensure the practice of shark finning is prohibited at each stage of the supply chain.
“This Bill simply seeks to treat shark fin food products the same as others considered unsuitable for consumption and will mirror provisions for existing offences under the Act.
“It does not go as far as the bans implemented in some US states such as California, Hawaii, Texas and New York but will be an effective step towards ending the awful practice of shark finning.
“Even with bans in place, we know that some fishers continue this cruel practice – in 2015, a boat was apprehended in Queensland waters carrying over 3,000 shark fins.
GET IN TOUCH:
Hon. Diane Evers
MLC for South West
(08) 9486 8070