The Beacon

Blog Tags: Shark Finning

New Videos and More in Oceana’s Fall Digital Mag

adrian grenier

Hey ocean lovers, the fall issue of our digital magazine is now available! There's lots of fun stuff inside as usual; here are some of the gems this time around:

*A gorgeous video from our expedition in the Baltic Sea this summer

*A slideshow of photos from this year’s Hamptons Splash party – and a catchy tune by the Honey Brothers with Oceana ambassador Adrian Grenier

*Victory! Chile ends shark finning (warning: includes some gruesome footage)

*Stunning underwater video from this year’s expedition in the Mediterranean

*The 2011 Ocean Heroes – shark loving youngster Sophi Bromenshenkel and marine mammal rescuer Peter Wallerstein

Check out the full issue to see the videos, photos and stories, and spread the word!


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2,000 Sharks Massacred in Colombian Sanctuary

shark fins

Shark fins drying in the sun. © Oceana/LX

Just a few weeks after we celebrated a soaring victory for sharks on the U.S. West Coast, Colombian authorities have reported that as many as 2,000 hammerhead, Galápagos and silky sharks may have been slaughtered in Colombia's Pacific waters.  

According to the Colombian president’s top environmental adviser, divers saw 10 Costa Rican trawlers illegally entering the Malpelo wildlife sanctuary.  When the divers swam down to the ocean floor, they found a shocking amount of sharks without their fins.

The Malpelo sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site, provides an ideal habitat for threatened sharks. Unfortunately, the high concentration of sharks in the sanctuary draws illegal fishing boats from nearby nations.

It’s sad day for sharks, but we'll continue working to stop illegal fishing and shark finning. You can help by supporting our campaign to protect our ocean’s top predators from extinction.


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Victory! West Coast Shark Fin Ban Complete

oceanic whitetip shark

At last, the good news you've been waiting for: California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill banning the trade of shark fins.

California has joined the ranks of Washington State, Oregon and Hawaii, who have all passed similar bans. Oceana supported this legislation from the beginning, and we are thrilled that Governor Brown has passed it into law, completing a West Coast ban.

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. In recent decades some shark populations have declined by as much as 99%.

Removing sharks from ocean ecosystems can destabilize the ocean food web and even lead to declines in populations of other species, including commercially-caught fish and shellfish species lower in the food web. 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, so shark fins are imported to the U.S. from countries with few or even no shark protections in place.

“Today is a landmark day for shark conservation around the globe” said Susan Murray, Oceana’s Senior Pacific Director. “The leadership shown by legislatures and governors of California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii sends a strong message that the entire US West Coast will no longer play a role in the global practice of shark finning that is pushing many shark species to the brink of extinction.”

A huge thanks to everyone who called your legislators and Governor Brown and helped secure this enormous victory for our oceans' top predators!


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CEO Note: Victory! West Coast Shark Fin Ban Complete

I’m thrilled to report that as of this afternoon, the entire U.S. West Coast has now banned the trade of shark fins.

After months of work by Oceana and our allies, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill banning the trade of shark fins, joining the ranks of a growing number of governments rallying to protect the top predators in the oceans. Washington State, Oregon and Hawaii have all passed similar bans.

As Oceana shark spokesperson January Jones and I wrote in the Huffington Post, each year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins, mostly to make shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy. Shark finning is a shocking practice in which a shark's fins are sliced off at sea and the animal is thrown back in the water to bleed to death. Shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, but that didn’t stop the shark fin trade.

According to government data, approximately 85 percent of dried shark fin imports to the United States came through California last year, making California the hub of the US shark fin market. Thanks to Governor Brown, this will no longer be the case.

Sharks have been on the planet for more than 400 million years, but populations around the world are crashing. They play a vital role in maintaining the health of ocean ecosystems, but due to their slow growth rate and low level of reproduction, sharks are especially vulnerable to fishing pressure.

We couldn’t have scored this monumental victory for sharks without you. Thanks to all of you for helping protect the oceans’ top predators.


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CEO Note: Nearing A Full Shark Fin Ban on the West Coast

While in 2010 the United States banned shark finning - the act of slicing off a shark's fins at seas and throwing the bleeding torso overboard to die - it has still allowed the sale and possession of shark fins, encouraging import and a market for the fins. Shark fins are primarily used in shark fin soup.

On Tuesday, the California Senate passed a bill to ban shark fin sale, trade, and possession. It awaits the governor's signature. Oceana joined the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Humane Society of the United States and Wildaid in support of this legislation.

This legislation builds on precedent and the momentum of Oceana’s work to protect sharks around the globe, including the U.S.’s ban passed last year, and a national ban on finning in Chile passed this July. The California bill joins similar legislation passed this year in Washington and Oregon, and last year in Hawaii. This coastwide action will help to lessen the demand for shark fins, and thus help save sharks across the globe that are slaughtered by countries with few or no regulations.

Up to 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins, including rare and endangered species. But with this legislation, we are making major progress in saving the oceans' top predator and one of the most ancient creatures in the sea.

If you're a California resident, you can help us. Place a phone call to Governor Brown's office to ask him to pass this bill, AB 376, by Oct. 9 in order to become law. You can reach Governor Brown's office at 916-445-2841.

With your support, we continue to win victories like this for our oceans. Thank you.


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Victory! California Senate Passes Shark Fin Trade Ban

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.


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Breaking: Oregon Governor Signs Shark Fin Trade Ban

Great news this shark week! We just got word that Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber will sign a bill this afternoon banning the sale, trade, and possession of shark fins in the state. Oceana was instrumental in the passage of this bill, which passed the State House and Senate with bipartisan support. 

The bill’s passage moves the U.S. West Coast closer to a full ban on the trade of shark fins, thereby helping to protect global populations of at-risk shark species that are being targeted in unsustainable and unregulated fisheries worldwide.

While shark finning is illegal in the U.S., current federal laws banning the practice do not address the shark fin trade. As a result, fins are being imported to the U.S. from countries with few or even no shark protections in place. 

Governor Chris Gregoire of Washington State signed similar legislation into law on May 12, 2011 and a bill in the California legislature passed the Assembly and is currently under consideration in committee in the Senate.

We commend Governor Kitzhaber for his extraordinary leadership to protect the ocean’s top predators, and congratulate our Pacific colleagues for their work in achieving this victory!


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Kristin Bauer: Let’s Save Sharks this Shark Week

kristin bauer

Actress and Oceana supporter Kristin Bauer.

I might play a blood-sucking vampire on “True Blood,” but in real life I’m a devoted animal lover and conservationist.

In the past few weeks, I’ve followed the proposed ban on the shark fin trade in California, and – in honor of Shark Week – I wanted to share a letter I recently wrote to California State Senator Paul Fong asking for his help to protect sharks:



Dear Assemblymember Fong and Members of the Legislature:


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An Invasion of Great White Sharks?

great white shark

Great white shark. © Oceana/David Stephens

Editor's note: Happy Shark Week! All week long we'll be re-capping some highlights from Shark Week programming, starting with today, and "Great White Invasion."

Great white sharks appear to be more common than ever nowadays, according to “Great White Invasion,” which aired last night as a part of Shark Week's first night of programming. The episode tracked these huge predators as they encroach on popular beaches from Australia to South Africa to southern California.

Why they are coming closer to shore is not completely understood, but scientists point to the availability of fish as well as the opportunity for sharks to sunbathe and enjoy higher oxygen levels in shallower waters as possible explanations. And even though the number of annual shark attacks worldwide has risen in recent years, it is still extremely low compared to the number of beachgoers.

So are great whites really “invading” our coastlines? Not quite. In fact, according to the Census for Marine Life, scientists estimate that there are only about 3,500 great white sharks left in the entire world. Of these, an estimated 219 live off the central California coast, so in reality, sharks aren’t exactly swarming in our oceans just yet.


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3 Ways to Get Ready for Shark Week

great white shark

On July 31, Shark Week is back!  Need some ideas on how to celebrate this, the sharkiest time of year? We're here for you:

1.    Share the Shark Week Love
Have your friends over for a watch party. Check out the programming schedule. I recommend "Jaws Comes Home" on July 31, but there's a full week of great shark shows to pick from.

Don’t know what to serve? Shark cookies, of course! Make a $35 donation and get a shark cookie cutter and recipe card so your friends can take a bite out of a great white while watching great whites take a bite out of seals.

2.    Shark Week 2.0
Bump up your watch party guest list by a few thousand. Take photos and share them with us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Have shark questions? Ask away on Facebook and Twitter and our shark experts will keep you shark savvy.

3.    Save Sharks
For one week a year, over 30 million Americans are glued to their TV sets, transfixed by incredible stories of amazing, powerful sharks. But the true story is that they can’t save themselves from their top predator: us.

Caught on fishing lines and targeted for their fins, shark numbers are dropping, and fast. If even just 10% of all Shark Week viewers took action to protect sharks, that would equal millions of people speaking up for the animals they tune in to see each year.

Make sure that Shark Week isn’t the only time we can see sharks. They are great to watch on TV, but we need them in the wild, too.


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