AUSTIN, TX – On Saturday, June 20, Texas became the 10th U.S. state to ban the trade of shark fins, when Gov. Greg Abbott signed H.B. 1579 into law, introduced by Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-District 38). This law ensures that Texas will no longer participate in the global fin trade that is largely responsible for the decline of sharks around the world.
Texas had recently emerged as a hub for shark fins, with the state’s fin trade growing by 240 percent since 2010, after the passage of similar fin trade bans in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Oregon and Washington. With this law’s passage, Texas is now the first Gulf Coast state to pass a shark fin trade ban. Although shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, fins can still be imported and exported in and out of most U.S. states. These fins often come from unsustainable foreign fisheries in countries that have ineffective shark finning bans.
Oceana applauds the law and released the following statement from Vice President for U.S. Oceans, Jacqueline Savitz:
“Texans should be proud to be part of the growing movement to end the trade of shark fins and to stop the brutal practice of shark finning worldwide. Each state that passes a shark fin trade ban brings us closer to reversing the global trend of declining shark populations, which scientists have estimated to be at more than 90 percent for many species.
People are outraged when they hear about elephants or rhinos killed by poachers for their tusks or horns, but shark finners are doing the same thing, often with endangered or threatened sharks. When they cut off the fins, the shark is still alive, and then only 1 to 5 percent of the shark even gets used. The bodies of the shark are then thrown back into the ocean, only to drown, starve or die a slow death. Shark finning is an unnecessary, brutal, wasteful practice that must become a thing of the past and Texas has helped to make that happen.
But the global demand for shark fin soup perpetuates this horrific practice. Banning shark finning alone is not enough -- we need to lessen the demand for this product. The bottom line is that sharks are worth more—both economically and environmentally—when they are swimming in our oceans rather than when they are cut up in a bowl of shark fin soup.
Oceana encourages other states around the country to follow Texas’s lead and pass similar laws to help prevent this brutal and unnecessary waste of important marine animals.”