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April 23, 2009

Bill to Protect Sharks Introduced in Senate

HSUS, Humane Society International Applaud Sen. Kerry for Introducing Shark Conservation Act

The Humane Society of the United States

WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the United States and its global affiliate Humane Society International applaud Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., for introducing the Shark Conservation Act of 2009 (S. 850) in the Senate Wednesday. This bill provides increased protection for vulnerable shark species from the inhumane practices of "finning" and overfishing.

"Each year, tens of millions of sharks worldwide have their fins cut off at sea and are then thrown back overboard to die a lingering, painful death," said Patricia Forkan, president of Humane Society International. "Shark finning threatens the survival of essential marine species, and we commend Senator Kerry for addressing this cruel and wasteful practice."

Although shark finning was banned in the U.S. by the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000, enforcement is complex and a major loophole allows circumvention of the law. Last summer, the U.S. Department of Commerce implemented regulations in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico requiring that sharks be landed with fins naturally attached to their bodies, the only sure way to prevent shark finning. However, the Pacific Ocean has no comparable regulation, leaving these expansive waters wide open to abuse.

The HSUS and HSI also applaud Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo, D-Guam, for introducing the House version of the Shark Conservation Act (H.R. 81) which was passed by the House in March. Identical language was passed by the House last year, but the companion bill did not have a chance to be considered by the Senate before the session adjourned.

The new legislation contains the same language as last year, closing a loophole that currently permits a vessel to transport fins that were obtained illegally as long as the sharks were not finned aboard that vessel. The act also requires that all sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached to their bodies, creating a clear enforcement mandate applicable in both oceans.

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Humane Society International is the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. HSI is creating a better future for animals and people through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the web at hsi.org.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org. 

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