In an interview with Channel 4 News’ political editor Gary Gibbon, Johnson said: “It may be that we want to ban the sale of shark fin soup, Gary, which you can’t do at the moment. Maybe you want to ban the sale of shark fins.”
Jim Cornelius, of the UK Trade Policy Observatory, a partnership between Chatham House and the University of Sussex, pointed out that shark finning had long been banned in the EU. There is debate among experts as to whether or not the sale of shark fins can be banned — but either way this would be due to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, not EU ones.
Trade expert Lorand Bartels, reader in International Law at the University of Cambridge, has said that a ban on shark fin imports would not violate WTO rules if it was also banned within the country — and so did not favour anyone. Trade expert Peter Ungphakorn has also said it is hard to determine how WTO rules would impact a ban without a formal legal ruling on the matter.
The prime minister’s suggestion that leaving the EU would allow Britain to ban the sale of shark fins was false.