WASHINGTON – Today, Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (I-M.P.) introduced the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, which would ban the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States. While shark finning, the act of cutting the fins off of a shark and discarding its body at sea, is illegal in U.S. waters, shark fins continue to be bought and sold throughout the U.S.
The demand for fins is one of the greatest threats facing shark populations around the world, usually intended as an ingredient in shark fin soup. Fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global market every year, and more than 70 percent of the most common shark species involved with the fin trade are considered at high or very high risk of extinction.
“Americans don’t want shark fins in the U.S. Eleven states have already passed shark fin bans, and now it is time for national action,” said Lora Snyder, campaign director at Oceana. “Healthy shark populations support healthy ocean ecosystems, which, in turn, contribute millions of dollars to economies around the world. The bill introduced today will remove the United States from the shark fin trade altogether, a huge step in the right direction for shark conservation.”
According to an Oceana report released last year, a nationwide ban would reduce the international fin trade, improve upon current enforcement capabilities and reinforce the status of the United States as a leader in shark conservation. Supporters of the legislation include 132 businesses, including Discovery Channel, Landry’s Inc, Lokai and Sea World, 126 non-profits, nine aquariums and multiple recreational fishing interests. Last year, Oceana released a poll revealing that eight in 10 Americans support a national ban on the buying and selling of shark fins.
“By allowing the sale of shark fins from foreign fisheries that have little to no regulations, we’re indirectly incentivizing the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning that is putting the survival of many shark populations in jeopardy,” Snyder said. “We commend Representatives Royce and Sablan for their leadership in introducing this legislation that will serve as an example for shark conservation worldwide.”
The bill currently has 23 bipartisan original co-sponsors. Similar legislation was introduced by Reps. Royce and Sablan in the 114th Congress last year.
Below are statements from the bill’s sponsors:
“The United States can set an example for the rest of the world by shutting down its market for shark fins, which are often harvested by leaving these animals to die a slow and painful death at the bottom of the ocean. The bipartisan Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act is a step towards eradicating shark finning for good,” said U.S. Representative Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"Our legislation, banning the sale of shark fins, builds on the efforts of three insular areas and 11 states that have passed legislation to protect sharks. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands has been a leader in this effort becoming the first insular area to pass shark fin legislation in 2011,” said U.S. Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan.