The Shark Conservation Act of 2008 was reported out of the Natural Resources Committee today with an amendment that would require sharks to be landed with their fins still naturally attached.
Congress initially passed the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 to eliminate the practice of shark finning at sea. Unfortunately, shark finning is still occurring. Currently, it is only required that the fins and carcasses be brought to dock in a specific ratio, allowing shark fins to be cut off at sea. In addition, "high-grading," or mixing and matching shark fins to carcasses, allows some fishermen to circumvent the law. By taking the next step and requiring that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached, we allow for better enforcement and data collection, which is essential in stock assessments and quota monitoring.
"Congress has been given the perfect opportunity to set an international precedent in shark conservation," said Beth Lowell, Federal Policy Director at Oceana. "U.S. leadership is essential to protect declining global shark populations."
The Shark Conservation Act of 2008 was introduced following a recent decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The legislation is intended to close the loophole exposed in the court decision by improving the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000, which was originally intended to prevent shark finning.
The amendment, H.R. 5741, was introduced by Congressman Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa), a member of the Natural Resources Committee and its Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans. The bill was introduced by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans of the House Committee on Natural Resources, in April.