Oceana commends the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee today for passing the Shark Conservation Act of 2009.
“Shark management in the U.S. has suffered for long enough,” said Beth Lowell, federal policy director at Oceana. “It’s time to enact this shark finning bill into law.”
The Act would require all sharks caught in U.S. waters to be landed whole with their fins still attached. This would put an end to shark finning, the wasteful process of cutting off the fins and discarding the carcass at sea.
Landing sharks with their fins still attached allows for better enforcement and data collection for stock assessments and quota monitoring. The Act would also close a loophole that allows the transfer of fins at sea as a way to get around current law. Additionally, the bill would allow the United States to take action against countries whose shark finning restrictions are not as strenuous.
“Finning is threatening shark populations worldwide,” said Elizabeth Griffin, marine scientist at Oceana. “The U.S. should be a leader in helping to solve the problem of shark finning.”
The Act was introduced by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) in April. Similar legislation (H.R. 81), introduced by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), passed the House of Representatives in March.
Sharks have been swimming the world’s oceans since before the age of the dinosaur, but today some species face extinction. Each year, commercial fishing kills more than 100 million sharks worldwide – including tens of millions for just their fins. Sharks are especially vulnerable to pressure from human activities because of their slow growth and low reproductive potential.
Sharks can be found in almost every ocean and play a vital role in maintaining the health of the oceans. Many shark populations have declined to levels where they are unable to perform their roles as top predators in the ecosystem, causing drastic and possibly irreversible damage to the oceans. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, more than half of the highly migratory shark species are now considered overexploited or depleted.
For more information about Oceana’s campaign to safeguard sharks, please visit www.oceana.org/sharks.