Today the Oregon State Senate voted 30-0 to ban the sale, trade, and possession of
shark fins within the state. The bill (HB 2838) previously passed the State House of
Representatives by a unanimous vote. 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 currently targeted in unsustainable and unregulated fisheries worldwide. Oceana
commends Oregon Representative Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie) for his extraordinary leadership to
protect a species that has been swimming the world’s oceans for more than 400 million years.
“With the global trade in shark fins pushing sharks toward extinction, it will take strong actions
such as this to prevent us from making irreversible changes to our ocean ecosystems,” said Whit
Sheard, Senior Advisor and Pacific Counsel for Oceana. “The unanimous passage of this bill once
again demonstrates that support for healthy oceans is a non-partisan issue,” added Sheard.
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. Without fins, sharks bleed to death, drown, or are
eaten by other species. In recent decades some shark populations have declined by as much as
99%. Removing sharks from ocean ecosystems can destabilize the ocean food web and even lead
to declines in populations of other species, including commercially-caught fish and shellfish
species lower in the food web.
“The leadership shown in Oregon today is a testament to ‘Think globally, act locally,’” said
Susan Murray, Oceana’s Senior Director for the Pacific. “By banning the possession and sale of
shark fins in Oregon, the legislature is actually helping to protect sharks around the world. If the
market for fins dries up, so will the profits of those who fish for sharks with no limits.”
While shark finning is illegal in the U.S., current federal laws banning the practice do not address
the issue of the shark fin trade. Therefore, fins are being imported to the U.S. from countries with
few or even no shark protections in place. The Oregon bill will go back to the House of
Representatives this week for a concurrence vote over slightly different language than was
previously passed by the House. 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
last week and is awaiting scheduling in the Senate.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana
wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over
1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures.
More than 500,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North,
South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.