November 19, 2009
Shark Bill Advances
Senate Committee Passes Shark Conservation Act
The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and Humane Society Legislative Fund commend the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation for approving legislation on Thursday to increase protection for sharks from the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning — cutting the fins off a shark and tossing the mutilated animal back into the ocean to die.
The Shark Conservation Act (S. 850), introduced by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., will strengthen the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000, which contained a loophole that allowed vessels to transport fins that were obtained illegally as long as the sharks were not finned aboard that vessel. Many fisheries target sharks for their valuable fins, which are sold for shark fin soup.
"Banning the removal of shark fins at sea in all federal waters is a crucial first step towards reversing declining shark population trends and ending the cruel and wasteful practice of finning in our waters," said Michael Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. "We urge the full Senate to move swiftly to adopt this legislation."
In July 2008, regulations were implemented in the U.S. federal waters of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico that require sharks to be landed with fins attached, the only sure way to prevent finning. The Shark Conservation Act would extend that requirement to the rest of the country.
- S. 850 has bipartisan support from 22 Senate cosponsors. Companion legislation (H.R. 81) passed the House of Representatives in March.
- Up to 73 million sharks are killed each year in targeted fisheries and as bycatch. Shark finning is a major cause of massive declines in shark populations around the world, since retaining only the fins allows fishing operations to kill many more sharks at a time.
- As apex predators, sharks play an important role in maintaining ecosystem balance. The killing of large numbers of sharks already appears to be affecting other marine species as well as commercial fisheries.
- A national fins-attached policy will also provide for improved conservation and management of steeply declining shark populations. It is often impossible to identify a shark species solely by looking at its fins, so landing sharks with fins attached is crucial for tracking which species are caught.
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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.