Last week, Delegate Mark Sickles (D-Franconia) introduced a bill (HB 1159) before the Virginia General Assembly that would ban shark fin trade throughout the state. If enacted, Virginia would become the first East Coast state to outlaw the sale, trade, possession or distribution of shark fins.
Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans, applauds Del. Sickles for his leadership to help reduce the market for shark fins and urges the Virginia Legislature to pass the bill as written.
“The shark fin trade is driving some shark species to extinction,” said Beth Lowell, campaign director at Oceana. “If Virginians want healthy oceans they will support his bill.”
While shark finning, the process of removing a shark’s fins and throwing the carcass overboard at sea, is illegal in the United States, current federal laws banning the practice do not address the issue of the shark fin trade. Therefore, shark fins can be imported into the U.S. from countries with few or even no shark protections in place.
Over the last two years, similar bans have been enacted in Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, California, Washington and Oregon.
“This bill is a no brainer,” said Lowell. “We hope other East Coast states will follow Virginia’s lead.”
Each year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins, mostly to make shark fin soup. In recent decades, some shark populations have declined by as much as 99 percent.