03/29/2013 05:46 EDT | Updated 05/29/2013 05:12 EDT

Conservatives Have Left Sharks to Flounder

On March 27, the House of Commons had the opportunity to pass a private members bill put forth by NDP member Fin Donnelly to ban the importation of shark fins to Canada. A recent national poll by Environics revealed that an overwhelming 81 per cent of Canadians support a shark fin import ban. The Conservative party however, decided that fighting to save sharks and represent the Canadian popular will was not part of their mandate and struck the bill down 143 votes to 138.

Tens of millions of sharks each year are disappearing from our oceans due to a cruel, often illegal harvest of shark fins. According to Donnelly "by implementing an import ban on shark fins, Canada will show global leadership in the fight to stop the harmful practice of shark finning and end our role in the trade of fins from both threatened and endangered sharks." Moreover he had hoped that a ban on the importation of shark fins to Canada would have positively impacted shark populations, which have plummeted dramatically over the last decade.



Shark finning is in violation of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries however there is no binding, enforceable law against shark fining in international waters. This unregulated, highly profitable market has boomed over the last decade and is leading to sharks being harvested in an exceptionally unsustainable manner.

Maximizing profit is achieved through efficiency and this market is no different. Due to the low demand and price for shark meat, sharks are caught, finned, and thrown back into the water, often still alive, left to drown. By voting against this bill, Conservative MPs voted to shut down all further conversation on stopping this brutal slaughter of sharks and ending this conservation crisis.

Gabriel Wildgen of Humane Society International Canada has been one of many working closely with Fin Donnelly to see this bill passed in the House of Commons.

In a recent article by Wildgen he explains that "according to Statistics Canada, our country imported more than 106,000 kg of shark fins in 2012 alone. Recent DNA tests on samples of 59 shark fins purchased in markets around Vancouver found that 76 per cent of the fins came from species that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has identified as threatened or near threatened."

In an email sent out by Donnelly he express that even though Conservatives voted down his bill the campaign to save sharks was an overwhelming success. Fin, his staff, HSIC, Rob Stewart, and many more have fought tirelessly to bring awareness to the issue of shark finning and they have succeeded and for that, I thank them.

It's our job now as Canadians to send a clear message to this government and remind them that they are in Ottawa to represent us, the people.

When 81 per cent of Canadians supported Donnelly's bill yet it was voted down for partisan reasons, that is putting personal party interests ahead of Canadian interests and THAT won't be forgotten in 2015.