The Beacon: Amelia Vorpahl's blog
After months of public campaigning and pressure by Oceana and other conservation groups, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has officially backed down from a proposal that would undermine bans on the sale of shark fins in Washington, Maryland and California. NOAA has not yet ruled on other states, or clarified whether it will drop disturbing language in a new shark fishing rule.
October is National Seafood Month, and to celebrate this event, seafood lovers may be getting ready to partake in their favorite dishes. But how does the average consumer know where their seafood was caught? Can they be sure what they are eating is what is on the label or menu?
Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans, is calling on chefs and restaurant owners from across the country to sign-on to a letter in support of the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood (SAFE Seafood) Act, which would require full chain traceability of all seafood sold in the United States.
We're thrilled to share some great news with you -- After more than five years of delay, the federal government finally proposed to protect 36 areas of ocean habitat across six states for loggerhead sea turtles, in response to a lawsuit filed by Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Turtle Island Restoration Network. After the government failed to respond to petitions to strengthen protections for loggerhead populations from as far back as 2007, we joined with these two other conservation groups to bring the lawsuit. The new proposal by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to protect the waters off of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, comes as a direct result of this lawsuit!
Last week, a U.S. federal court struck a blow against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing operations when it ordered three men to pay $22.5 million in restitution for smuggling sea bass and rock lobster from South Africa, which is the largest monetary penalty ever given for this type of illegal activity.
With the session ending in just three days, Delaware may become the first East Coast state to ban the shark fin trade. HB 324, the bill banning the sale, trade, possession and distribution of shark fins throughout the state, has already passed the Delaware State Assembly and it’s now up to the Senate to finish the job.
Shark fins are primarily used for shark fin soup, a delicacy in many Asian communities. This demand for shark fins, however, drives the cruel practice of shark finning, slicing a shark’s fins off and throwing the body overboard. This bill would decrease the demand for fins, and prevent Delaware from becoming a state used to transport fins to larger markets in other East Coast states, like New York.
Some species of sharks have declined by as much as 99 percent, mainly from the demand for shark fins. As the top predators in the ocean food chain, sharks help keep our oceans in balance.
The importance of passing a shark fin ban bill in Delaware is a small step in a bigger picture. Other states that have enacted laws banning shark fin sales include California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii, and similar legislation is awaiting Governor Pat Quinn’s signature in Illinois.
Oceana commends the Delaware State Assembly on their important action to save sharks, and calls upon the Delaware Senate to do the same!
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