The West Coast shark fin trade bans we celebrated last year may be catching on here on the East Coast.
Maryland lawmakers introduced bills Tuesday in both the House and Senate that would outlaw the sale, trade, distribution or possession of shark fins, with violations punishable by fines ranging from $5,000 to $50,000.
As Oceana's Campaign Director Beth Lowell told the Baltimore Sun’s Green blog, there's been no dried shark fin shipped into or out of the port of Baltimore, but U.S. Customs data show exports of shark products, mainly dogfish, exported from Washington and Norfolk.
Each year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins, mostly to make shark fin soup. In this wasteful and cruel practice, a shark’s fins are sliced off while at sea and the remainder of the animal is thrown back into the water to die. Without fins, sharks bleed to death, drown, or are eaten by other species.
Shark finning is illegal in the U.S., but fins are imported from countries with weak or nonexistent protections. In recent decades some shark populations have declined by as much as 99%.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on this legislation and we’ll be sure to keep you posted!
Things continue to look up for sharks in the Pacific.
Last night the California Senate passed a ban on the sale, trade, possession, and distribution of shark fins in the state. Oceana was instrumental in the passage of this bill to protect the ocean’s apex predators.
If the bill is signed into law by Governor Brown by October 9, a sweeping West Coast ban on the trade of shark fins will be complete. Washington passed similar legislation in May, followed by Oregon in early August. Hawaii, Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands have also passed similar bills.
While shark finning is illegal in the U.S., current federal laws banning the practice do not address the issue of the shark fin trade. As a result, fins are imported to the U.S. from countries with little to no shark protections in place. The only way to really address California’s contribution to the global declines in shark populations is to address the market demand for fins in the state.
The passage of this bill will help to protect global populations of at-risk shark species that are being targeted in unsustainable and unregulated fisheries worldwide.
Thanks to everyone who spoke up to help score this victory for sharks! You can see a list of the Senators who voted "aye" for the bill here.