Yesterday, the New York state Assembly took a huge step forward for shark conservation worldwide by passing a bill to ban the sale, trade, distribution and possession of shark fins throughout the state. The bill has already been approved by the state Senate and now has 10 days to be signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans, commends New York policymakers for giving sharks a second chance after last year’s failure to pass similar legislation.
“The global exploitation of sharks for their fins is driving many species to the edge of extinction and could wreak havoc on our oceans,” said Beth Lowell, campaign director at Oceana. “As the largest market for shark fins on the East Coast, New York demonstrated its leadership in protecting our oceans by passing this bill.”
The practice of shark finning, often driven by the demand for fins to be used in shark fin soup, is illegal in the United States. However, there are no federal laws to address the trade of these fins, often imported from countries with few shark protections in place. As a result, a growing number of states are standing up and passing their own restrictions. Some shark populations have declined by as much as 99 percent, mostly as a result of these unsustainable fishing practices.
If the bill is signed into law, New York would become the seventh state to prohibit the trade of shark fins, joining California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Hawaii, and most recently, Maryland. A similar bill in Delaware is awaiting the governor’s signature. With both Delaware and New York laws in place, these eight state bans will drastically reduce the market for shark fin soup in the U.S, as they represent the largest markets for this Asian delicacy.
“As apex predators, sharks keep the entire marine food web in balance. They belong in our oceans, not chopped up in a bowl of soup,” Lowell said.
Oceana applauds Sen. Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo) and Rep. Alan Maisel (D-Brooklyn) for leading the charge to protect sharks in New York.
For more information about Oceana’s campaign to protect sharks, please click here.