Did you know that shark finning is still allowed in the U.S.? Despite the finning prohibition ushered in by the 2010 Shark Conservation Act, some east coast states were still allowing fishermen to fin spiny dogfish sharks at sea as long as the removed fins did not weigh more than five percent of the bodies onboard the vessel.
Every year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins alone. Shark fins are used to make shark fin soup, a popular and expensive dish that is a symbol of wealth and status primarily in Asian cultures.
The demand for fins can lead to cruel and wasteful practices, such as cutting off a shark’s fins at sea and then throwing the rest of the shark, sometimes still alive, back into the water. And shark fin soup can be dangerous to humans. Since sharks are at the top of the food chain, they accumulate toxins like mercury, which is a dangerous neurotoxin.
So are there any alternatives to shark fin soup? Shark fins themselves have no taste and are used only for texture. In traditional shark fin soup recipes, chicken or fish stock is added to give the soup flavor which means that there are a lot of ways to enjoy shark fin soup without using shark fins – like this recipe from the Monterey Bay Aquarium:
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!
In Singapore, we’re seeing more proof that dedicated activists can make a difference in the world. Singapore is one of the shark fin capitals of the world, but thanks to an outcry from local customers, its largest supermarket chain, Fairprice, will be pulling fins from its shelves.
Shark fins are often cut from live sharks, which are then thrown overboard to die. The huge demand for fins, considered a delicacy, puts some shark species at risk of extinction.
And while shark fin is a culturally important food in Singapore, the tide is turning. A campaign by divers against shark fins caused one of Fairprice’s suppliers to launch an online attack ad that said “Screw the divers!”
Luckily for sharks, the ad backfired. Not all Singaporeans are shark fin fans. Local groups like Project Fin have been fighting to create change from the inside out, and they are finally having an impact. In response to the ad, Singaporeans sent hundreds of complaints to Fairprice and suggested a boycott.
In response, Fairprice made the smart—and surprising—decision to stop selling shark fins.
"It is encouraging to see FairPrice respond promptly to the public reaction. They can progress further by selling only sustainable food," said Jennifer Lee, founder of Project Fin.
Kudos to the Singaporean shark protectors for such a powerful victory in the wake of cultural pressure.
It’s not every day that you hear about the Marshall Islands. Scattered across a swath of the Pacific Ocean, these islands are home to only about 68,000 people. But as of this week, the waters around these islands may become home to a whole lot more sharks.
That’s because the government has decided to make all of its waters—more than 750,000 square miles, or about the size of Mexico—a shark sanctuary. This move will almost double the area in which sharks are protected globally.
Within the Marshall Islands, it will now be illegal to commercially fish sharks, sell any shark products, and use wire leaders (a type of fishing gear often responsible for shark deaths). In addition, all sharks caught accidentally must be released, and fishing boats will be required to bring all their catch directly to port for inspection—an important step in combating seafood fraud. Fines for having shark products will run the equivalent of $25,000 to $200,000.
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!
Fantastic news! Earlier this afternoon, the Chilean National Congress passed a nationwide ban on shark finning.
This groundbreaking decision comes on the heels of a very similar ban passed by the United States Congress last December, and puts both countries at the forefront of shark conservation. Oceana drafted the Chilean bill in January, and we are elated to see it pass into law – without a single dissenter.
Shark finning is an inhumane practice that often involves throwing the rest of the shark’s body back into the water once the desired fin is obtained. Despite its cruelty, shark finning is incredibly rampant, due to culinary demand from Asian countries such as China, where shark fin soup is popular.
With the passage of this bill, Chile joins a growing list of countries leading the way in shark conservation. Because sharks do not respect national boundaries, this legislation will help protect shark populations and ocean health in Chile and beyond.
Stellar news for sharks today: Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law a ban on the trade of shark fins.
“By signing this legislation the Governor took a very large west coast leadership role in initiating action to address a global problem,” said Whit Sheard, Senior Advisor and Pacific Counsel for Oceana. “This bill will do two things, help us move closer to ending the wasteful and unnecessary depletion of our ocean’s top predators and serve as a model for Oregon and California as they have similar pending legislation.”
While shark finning is illegal in the U.S., current federal laws banning shark finning do not address the issue of the shark fin trade. As a result, fins are being imported to the U.S. from countries with limited to zero shark protections in place. Similar legislation passed recently in Hawaii and Guam and is pending in Oregon and California.
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.
Congrats to Oceana’s Pacific campaigners for helping win this great victory for sharks!
Chinese NBA basketball star Yao Ming hopes so. As center for the Houston Rockets, Ming is spreading the word to “Say no to shark fin soup” with his new ads sponsored by Oceana and WildAid.
Ming’s message is traveling through San Francisco by bus, including those on Chinatown routes to support legislation (AB 376) to ban the possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins in California.
Great news from the Evergreen State: Washington State’s legislature has passed a bill banning the illegal trade of shark fins, an extraordinary step toward shark conservation on the U.S. Pacific coast. The legislation now goes to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
While shark finning is illegal in the U.S., current federal laws banning shark finning do not address the issue of the shark fin trade. As a result, fins are being imported to the U.S. from countries with limited to zero shark protections in place. Similar legislation passed recently in Hawaii and is pending in Oregon and California.
“This legislation is an excellent example of a state taking action to address a global problem,” said Whit Sheard, Senior Advisor and Pacific Counsel for Oceana. “This bill will help us move closer to ending the wasteful and unnecessary depletion of our ocean’s top predators.”