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April 5, 2010

The HSUS, Hawaii Environmental Groups Urge House to Pass Bill to Protect Sharks

HONOLULU — The Humane Society of the United States, along with Shark Allies and the Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter, praise the state House Judiciary Committee for passing a bill last week to combat the cruel and wasteful practice of shark-finning. Championed by Sen. Clayton Hee, D-Kahuku, La'ie, Ka'a'awa, Kane'ohe, SB 2169 would prohibit the sale, possession or distribution of shark fins and fin products, closing a major enforcement loophole in existing law. Should this law pass, it would be the first of its kind in the nation to ban the possession and sale of shark fins.

Shark finning involves cutting off the fins of sharks then throwing the shark back into the ocean, often while still alive, only to drown, starve or die a slow death due to predation from other species. Some species of shark are on the brink of extinction due to the cruel and exploitive shark fin industry.  

"Thanks to Representative Karamatsu and his committee, Hawaii has the opportunity to lead our country internationally in helping to balance the world's ecology and environment by ceasing the senseless slaughter of one of the greatest predators of the world's ocean," said Sen. Hee. "Sharks have a very unique and distinguished presence in Hawaiian culture as family guardians who protect us from harm as our 'aumakua'.  This effort acknowledges and pays respect to that special recognition by everyone in Hawaii." 

"Hawaii is internationally renowned for its treasured marine life. We send our deepest gratitude to Senator Hee and House Judiciary Chair Jon Riki Karamatsu for their leadership on this ground-breaking measure which would rightfully make Hawaii the nation's leader in shark and ocean protection," said Inga Gibson, Hawaii state director for The HSUS.  

The bill now goes to the full House of Representatives for a vote. The HSUS urges the House to approve this landmark measure.

Facts about sharks:

  • Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year; many in Hawaii, simply to supply the wasteful demand for shark fin soup. Shark populations cannot sustain current slaughter rates.
  • Sharks are apex predators whose survival affects all other marine species and the entire ocean's ecosystem.
  • Unlike other fish species, sharks produce few pups, and thus, many species are endangered and/or threatened due to the fin trade.
  • The U.S. Congress is currently considering the Shark Conservation Act, which would crack down on the lucrative and abusive trade in shark fins and close critical loopholes in the federal law to improve enforcement, such as requiring boats to land sharks with their fins still attached.

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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.

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