Oceana applauds the United States Senate today for passing the Shark Conservation Act, which will end shark finning in U.S. waters.
“In last minute action, the Senate passed precedent-setting shark conservation measures requiring sharks to be landed whole with their fins still naturally attached,” said Beth Lowell, federal policy director at Oceana. “This requirement will ensure that shark finning does not occur. Now the House of Representatives must take one more vote to enact this bill into law.”
Each year, commercial fishing kills more than 100 million sharks worldwide – including tens of millions for just their fins. The requirement to land sharks whole, as well as a new prohibition on the transfer of fins at sea, will help end shark finning by U.S. fishing vessels.
“We’ve finally realized that sharks are worth more alive than dead,” said Elizabeth Griffin Wilson, marine scientist and fisheries campaign manager at Oceana. “While shark fins and other shark products are valuable, the role sharks play in the marine ecosystem is priceless. The U.S. has helped set a high standard for other countries and international management organizations to follow.”
Landing sharks with their fins still attached allows for better enforcement and data collection for stock assessments and quota monitoring. The Shark Conservation Act improves the existing law originally intended to prevent shark finning. It also allows the U.S. to take action against countries whose shark finning restrictions are not as strenuous, labelling the U.S. as a continued leader in shark conservation.
The Shark Conservation Act was originally introduced by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) and passed the U.S. House of Representatives in both the 110th and 111th Congress (H.R.81). The Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator John Kerry (D-MA). It passed the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in November 2009.
The bill will now return to the House for one final vote to accept the Senate version of the legislation before it can be signed into law.
Sharks have been swimming the world’s oceans for more than 400 million years – long before the first dinosaurs appeared on land. Sharks can be found in almost every ocean and play a vital role in maintaining the health of ocean ecosystems.
Sharks face a new threat – humans. Sharks are especially vulnerable to pressure from human activities because of their slow growth rate and low reproduction potential. 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.
For more information about Oceana’s campaign to safeguard sharks, please visit www.oceana.org/sharks.