The United States House of Representatives approved the Senate version of the Shark Conservation Act today, clearing the final hurdle to ending shark finning in U.S. waters. Below is a statement in response to today’s decision from Oceana’s federal policy director Beth Lowell.
“The Shark Conservation Act has finally passed the finish line. Oceana applauds Congress and its ocean heroes for passing such an important piece of legislation. Sharks now have a reason to celebrate this holiday season.
Our oceans have reached a tipping point and sharks are essential to keeping them healthy for years to come. Today is a big step forward for shark conservation, both in the U.S. and internationally.
Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Congresswomen Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), among others, are showing the world that our oceans are important. Oceana thanks Congress for its leadership and pushing this critical bill over the last hurdle before the end of this Congressional session.
2010 may mark a turning point for shark conservation. Today’s decision builds on measures put into place last month to protect several shark species in the Atlantic Ocean, including oceanic whitetips, which have declined by more than 99 percent in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, the state of Hawaii has outlawed the sale of shark fin soup.
Oceana is happy to see the Shark Conservation Act finally being sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.”
About the Shark Conservation Act:
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.
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). A version of the bill, introduced by Senator John Kerry (D-MA), passed the U.S Senate yesterday, December 20, 2010.
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.