Oceana applauds Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) for introducing the Shark Conservation Act in the House of Representatives today. The Shark Conservation Act would require sharks caught in all U.S. waters to be landed whole with their fins attached. Under current law, fins and carcasses are only required to be landed in a specific ratio, although in some regions, fishery regulations require sharks to be landed with fins attached.
"Introduction of the Shark Conservation Act sets a precedent for protecting vulnerable and endangered shark populations in the U.S. and around the word," said Beth Lowell, federal policy director at Oceana. "Congress should ensure fast passage of this important piece of legislation in both chambers to end shark finning in U.S. waters once and for all."
The bill also allows the United States to take action against countries whose shark finning restrictions are not as strenuous, thus allowing the U.S. to be a continued international leader in shark conservation.
Congresswoman Bordallo, chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans of the House Committee on Natural Resources in the 110th Congress, continues to fight for shark conservation in the 111th Congress. Congresswoman Bordallo originally introduced the bill in April 2008 and the U.S. House of Representatives passed the legislation in early July. The U.S. Senate followed by introducing similar legislation but did not take action on the bill before the session ended in December.
Similar regulations are already being enforced in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NFMS) requires all federally permitted shark fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico to land sharks with their fins still naturally attached. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) also enacted new rules last year requiring all sharks caught in state fisheries from Maine to Florida to be "landed whole" with their fins naturally attached. Congressional action is now needed to standardize conservation requirements and ensure that sharks are protected in all U.S. waters.
"Requiring all sharks to be landed with their fins still naturally attached would be an enormous step forward in U.S. shark management," said Elizabeth Griffin, marine wildlife scientist at Oceana. "This bill will set a gold standard for the rest of the world to follow and will allow for better enforcement and data collection, which are essential in stock assessments and quota monitoring."
For more information about sharks and the threats facing their populations, please visit www.oceana.org/sharks.