By Suzannah Evans
Actress January Jones made her first visit to Capitol Hill in September when she came to lobby on behalf of the Shark Conservation Act of 2009.
Along with Oceana federal policy director Beth Lowell and marine scientist Elizabeth Griffin, Jones, who is best known for her role as Betty Draper on the hit drama “Mad Men,” visited with members of Congress including Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and John McCain (RAZ). Senator McCain surprised her with a quick tour of the Capitol building.
“The spontaneous, private tour of the Capitol by Senator McCain was a real highlight,” Jones said. “But my true favorite part was seeing that the process can work and that it’s possible to pass good legislation. It was great to talk with the senators and to have them listen to what I had to say.”
Jones’ message of shark conservation was a hit.
“Two of the senators immediately signed onto the bill,” she said. “I was surprised by how supportive they were. I think it’s a testament to the great work being done by Oceana.”
Less than two months after Jones’ trip to the Capitol, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed the Shark Conservation Act. The House of Representatives passed similar legislation in March.
The legislation would require all sharks caught in U.S. waters to be landed whole with their fins still attached. This bill would put an end to shark finning, the process of cutting off the fins and discarding the carcass at sea. Landing sharks with their fins still attached allows for better enforcement and data collection for stock assessments and quota monitoring. The act would also close a loophole that allows the transfer of fins at sea as a way to get around current law. Additionally, the bill would allow the United States to take action against countries whose shark finning restrictions are not as effective.
Now, the Shark Conservation Act must pass the full Senate. Inspired by her success in her first visit to Washington, Jones is eager to continue helping protection sharks from extinction.
“Yes, I would like to come back – to the White House ceremony for the bill signing!” she said.