The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) enacted new rules last night requiring sharks caught in state fisheries from Maine to Florida to be "landed whole" with their fins naturally attached. The ASMFC is the 15-state entity responsible for coordinating the conservation and management of shared coastal fishery resources in state waters.
"Landing sharks whole is essential to conservation and effective fisheries management. Requiring sharks to be landed with their fins attached allows for better data collection and enforcement, which is essential to monitoring shark populations and fishery catches," said Elizabeth Griffin, marine wildlife scientist at Oceana. "There is growing consensus that landing sharks with their fins naturally attached is the best way to manage shark fisheries."
Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Shark Conservation Act of 2008, which would require sharks caught in all U.S. waters to be landed with fins attached. The bill also allows the United States to take action against countries whose shark finning restrictions are not as strenuous. Similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and needs to approved before the measures can become law.
"Congress needs to ensure that sharks in the United States and around the globe are protected by enacting the Shark Conservation Act of 2008," said Beth Lowell, federal policy director at Oceana. "The fate of the Shark Conservation Act now lies with the U.S. Senate. Time is running out for this session of Congress, but we look to the Senate to act fast and enact necessary measures to protect sharks."
In June, the National Marine Fisheries Service also approved new rules requiring all federally permitted shark fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico to land sharks with their fins attached.
As top predators of the sea, sharks are an important component in maintaining an ocean ecosystem full of diversity and life. However, nearly all shark populations are in serious decline. Humans kill more than 100 million sharks every year, driven in large part by the lucrative trade of shark fins.
For more information about Oceana's campaign to protect sharks, please visit http://oceana.org/sharks. Shark photos are available at www.oceana.org/sharks/photos/. For shark footage, please contact Dustin Cranor at 202.467.1917 or email@example.com.