Yesterday, Delaware became the seventh state to prohibit the sale, trade, possession and distribution of shark fins within state borders. By signing House Bill 41, Gov. Jack Markell not only made Delaware the second East Coast state to ban the shark fin trade, but he sent the message that sharks are worth more in the oceans than in a bowl of shark fin soup.
Banning the shark fin trade in the U.S. is important because it reduces the demand for fins that drives the wasteful and grisly act of shark finning, which is decimating shark populations worldwide. The U.S. has banned shark finning in our waters, but the demand for fins is driving unsustainable fishing practices beyond our borders. As apex predators, sharks play a vital role in maintaining the health and balance of the oceans, yet tens of millions of sharks are killed every year, many of them just for their fins. Additionally, because sharks only have a few pups at a time and are slow to mature, populations are extremely vulnerable to overfishing and take a long time to recover.
With the signing of this bill, Delaware has joined the entire West Coast, Hawaii, Illinois, and most recently Maryland in banning the trade of shark fins. A similar bill is also currently awaiting the governor’s signature in New York, which is the largest market for shark fins on the East Coast. If the New York bill is signed into law, the largest markets for shark fin soup in America will have bans in place, effectively shutting down most of the demand for this delicacy in the U.S.
We commend Delaware policymakers for standing up for sharks as well as Gov. Markell for signing this important piece of legislation yesterday. Oceana now calls on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to follow Delaware’s leadership and keep the momentum moving forward on the East Coast.