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Marine Life & Conservation

King Charles set to ban import and export of shark fins

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King Charles is set to give his Royal Assent to a new law banning the import and export of shark fins later this year, ending the UK’s dark and secret participation in the controversial, billion-dollar, global shark fin trade.

Every year, on average, the UK exports around 20 tonnes of shark fins – typically harvested from blue sharks – for processing by Spain and onward shipment to the Far East for use as the title ingredient in shark fin soup.

UK shark fin imports, on the other hand, have been a lot harder to track since a loophole in European law permits anyone entering the UK to bring 20kg of dried shark fins through Customs without question, as part of their personal import allowance.

Now, with the monarch’s signature, this is set to end.

Campaign director for Bite-Back, Graham Buckingham, said: “A UK ban on the import and export of shark fins represents a world leading victory for shark conservation, a major blow to the shark fin industry, and a new hope to countries seeking a similar ban across Europe and the rest of the globe.”

Since it launched its NO FIN TO DECLARE campaign in 2015, the charity has been at the forefront of efforts to cease the movement of shark fins. In that time it It has tirelessly campaigned to encourage public and political support, it has navigated Brexit for new opportunities, it has counselled goverment and endured broken political promises (Animal Welfare Bill 2021), only to find an ally in a back bench Labour MP who put forward a private members’ bill just 12 months ago.

In the last year, Christina Rees MP for Neath and Port Talbot, supported by Bite-Back, successfully guided her Shark Fins Bill unchallenged through the Houses of Parliament and on to Baroness Jones of Whitchurch in the House of Lords, where the bill was unilaterally supported and passed on Friday 16 June 2023 for Royal Assent into law.

Significantly, fewer than four private members’ bills a year make it to the palace.

TV presenter, wildlife expert and patron of Bite-Back, Steve Backshall MBE, said: “This news is an incredible result for sharks and the oceans. Around the world sharks are being slaughtered in their millions just for their valuable fins and populations can’t recover. Without breakthroughs like this we could lose some sharks forever. I can only hope that this outcome prompts more countries to follow the UK’s lead and, together, we can give sharks the break they so desperately need.”

King Charles is due to sign the Shark Fins Bill into law later this year.

More from Bite-Back at www.bite-back.com

Marine Life & Conservation

Stranded dolphin rescued from muddy inlet

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dolphin

At around 11:40 on Friday 16 February, a lone common dolphin was reported to British Divers Marine Life Rescue circling in the shallows in an inlet at Place, near Portscatho, in Cornwall. A couple of volunteer Marine Mammal Medics were sent down initially to monitor the animal in hope it would be able to get away by itself, and further assess the situation.

After an hour and a half or so of observation, the risk of stranding increased significantly as the tide went out as the inlet is very shallow, muddy and almost completely dries out over low tide. Therefore, a larger response team was dispatched with more equipment in preparation for a stranding. Indeed, the animal did soon strand in the mud and fell onto its side, submerging the blowhole. Luckily the team were on hand to help get it upright again quickly, then bring it ashore for a health assessment and to begin providing first aid. No obvious injuries could be found and it measured 2.03m, later confirmed as female.

dolphin

The team were soon joined by two vets, who were able to confirm the animal to be in moderate nutritional condition and appeared otherwise okay following a more detailed health check, and so was suitable for the team to attempt to refloat. However, it was not possible to refloat it safely in the inlet due to the nature of the geography, substrate and tide there it seemed the most likely reason this dolphin had stranded was due to getting disoriented in this location, and would struggle to get out again. Luckily a local resident had his boat tender moored nearby and was happy to use it a transport craft to take the dolphin out to deeper water.

dolphin

With help, the boat was slid across the mud and launched near the mouth of the inlet. A surfboard was placed on one side with a soft mat on top for the dolphin to lie comfortably on during the journey. When ready, the dolphin was carried across in a tarpaulin, transferred to a mesh stretcher and loaded on board with a team of four Medics including a vet.

The boat then carefully made its way out to the mouth of the Percuil River, facing into Carrick Roads and close to open sea, which was the most ideal site for release where the chance of returning and re-dolphinstranding was lower. The dolphin was carefully hauled overboard in the stretcher and held alongside briefly, though as she started kicking strongly almost straight away it was hard to keep hold and so she was released quickly. The boat retreated and the team observed her circling in the middle of the channel until she was lost from sight. The team returned to the inlet before darkness fell.

dolphin

The area will be monitored over the weekend for re-sightings or re-strandings, but it is hoped that she will recover successfully and continue back out to sea. In the meantime BDMLR would like to thank the volunteer team, local residents and members of the public for all their efforts and support throughout this incident.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue is an international marine animal rescue organisation based in the UK and is a registered charity.  The aims of the organisation are to provide a rescue service for marine wildlife, to support existing rehabilitation centres and to develop new methods of rescue, treatment, transport and care.  Website www.bdmlr.org.uk.

Photos: Dan Jarvis

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Marine Life & Conservation

Mother of Corals Announces Ambassador Program

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Mother of Corals, a US-based non-profit organization that teaches communities worldwide to rebuild coral reefs, is launching a new Ambassador Program.

Unlock the secrets of coral restoration and become an advocate for marine conservation. This comprehensive program is designed for individuals passionate about protecting our oceans and eager to make a tangible impact on coral reef ecosystems. Participants will delve into the science, techniques, and community engagement aspects of coral restoration, gaining the base knowledge and skills necessary to contribute actively to reef rehabilitation efforts.

Join Mother of Corals in beautiful Bocas del Toro, Panama to learn about coral restoration projects from start to finish. This course is designed for students, environmentalists, divers, soon-to-be-divers and anyone seeking to become a catalyst for positive change in coral reef conservation. Join Mother of Corals on a transformative journey to become a Mother of Corals Ambassador and contribute to the preservation of one of Earth’s most vital ecosystems.

Sessions begin in April 2024! For more information, contact Mother of Corals via their website.

Photo: Avalon.Red

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Experience the Red Sea in May with Bella Eriny Liveaboard! As the weather warms up, there’s no better time to dive into the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea. Join us on Bella Eriny, your premier choice for Red Sea liveaboards, this May for an unforgettable underwater adventure. Explore vibrant marine life and stunning coral reefs Enjoy comfortable accommodation in our spacious cabins Savor delicious meals prepared by our onboard chef Benefit from the expertise of our professional dive guides Visit our website for more information and to secure your spot: www.scubatravel.com/BellaEriny or call 01483 411590 More Less

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