Yesterday, the Delaware House of Representatives took a huge step forward for shark conservation efforts worldwide when they passed a bill that would prohibit the trade of shark fins within their state borders. House Bill 41 bans the sale, possession, and distribution of shark fins, which are commonly used in the Asian delicacy shark fin soup. Demand for these products drives the harmful and wasteful practice of shark finning, which is responsible for the deaths of millions of sharks every year and the depletion of populations worldwide.
A bowl of shark fin soup can command up to $100, however this pricey delicacy is driving some shark species to the brink of extinction. While shark finning, the practice of slicing off a shark’s fins and throwing the often still alive shark overboard, is illegal in the U.S., the trade of shark fins is allowed. Shark fins are frequently imported from countries with few to no shark protections in place. Some states have started to push back against the exploitative trade however, with all West Coast states, as well as Hawaii and Illinois, passing legislation to prohibit this trade within their borders. The movement to protect sharks is growing on the East Coast as well, with New York having a similar bill currently under consideration and a bill in Maryland awaiting the Governor’s signature.
Sharks are worth more to us swimming in the ocean than chopped up in a bowl of soup. Healthy oceans depend on sharks, and now, sharks are depending on us. The Delaware bill, introduced last month, will now go to the state Senate for review, and if passed, to Gov. Jack Markell to be signed into law. Oceana urges the Delaware Senate to move the legislation forward and take a stand against the shark fin trade, for the health of our sharks and our oceans.