Maryland made history today by becoming the first East Coast state to ban the possession, sale and distribution of shark fins throughout the state. They join the entire West Coast, as well as Illinois and Hawaii, in banning the fin trade, which drives the cruel and unnecessary act of shark finning and is contributing to the near-extinction of many shark species.
When you think of Illinois, “shark fins” may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But this inland state does have a shark fin trade, and it may soon be history.
After Oceana collected over a thousand signatures from concerned Illinois citizens this week, the Illinois Senate voted to pass a shark fin ban in the state. The bill is now heading to Governer Pat Quinn’s desk, awaiting his signature. If it passes into law, Illinois will be the first non-Pacific (and first inland!) state to ban shark fins in the United States.
Why is this an important issue for Illinois? Chicago is a hub for shark fins in the Midwest, and lawmakers are concerned. Shark fins are considered an Asian delicacy, and one fin can sell for several hundred dollars. This creates a lucrative business for shark fishermen, some of whom use a cruel practice called “finning”—cutting the fins off a live shark and then throwing the bleeding animal overboard to die. Finning is illegal in U.S. waters, but fins sold in the U.S. may be imported from countries that allow finning. And even in the U.S., shark populations are struggling, with some populations having declined by 90%.
Every shark fin sold contributes to the disappearance of our sharks. We’re so happy that the Illinois legislature is recognizing the danger to our oceans, and we hope that Governor Quinn signs the bill and makes Illinois a Midwest leader for our oceans.
Today, the Maryland state Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee is holding a hearing on numerous bills including a bill that would ban the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark and ray fins.
This bill will help protect global shark populations by reducing the demand for their fins. Each year, tens of million sharks are killed so that their fins can be used in shark fin soup. In the United States, the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning is illegal. However, many fins are imported from all around the world, contributing to the demand for shark fins and the overfishing of sharks.
Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and California have already passed similar laws, and bills have also been introduced in New York, Illinois, Florida, and Virginia. Oceana supports Maryland’s initiative and asks that state residents do so as well.
Please show your support by telling your legislator to vote for SB 465!
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!