Oceana applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the "Shark Conservation Act of 2008" today. This legislation will improve existing laws that were originally intended to prevent shark finning and will allow the U.S. to continue being an international leader in shark conservation.
Last month, the House Natural Resources Committee amended the bill to require that sharks be landed with their fins still naturally attached, enhancing the current law that only requires fins and carcasses be landed in a specific ratio.
"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 global standard for the rest of the world to follow and will allow for better enforcement and data collection, which is essential in stock assessments and quota monitoring."
The bill also allows the U.S. to take actions against countries whose shark finning restrictions are not at least as strenuous as those in the U.S. This could include the prohibition of shark products from those countries, among other actions.
"We are pleased the House passed this key piece of legislation to improve shark protections," said Beth Lowell, federal policy director at Oceana. "Time is running out for this session of Congress, and we are looking to the Senate for fast action to enact the Shark Conservation Act of 2008 into law."
Enactment of the Shark Conservation Act of 2008 will close the loopholes in the Shark Finning Prohibition Act and would result in stronger protections for vulnerable and endangered shark populations in the U.S. and around the world.
Today's decision follows recent action taken by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NFMS) requiring all federally permitted shark fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico to land sharks with their fins still naturally attached. This bill will require the same standards to be applied in all U.S. waters.
The bill was originally introduced by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans of the House Committee on Natural Resources in early April. Congressman Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) offered the amendment to require fins attached June 11.
For more information about sharks and the threats facing their populations, please visit http://oceana.org/sharks.