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May 31, 2011

Oregon Senate Votes Unanimously to Protect Sharks

SALEM, Ore. – The Humane Society of the United States commends the Oregon State Senate for passing HB 2838, sponsored by Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, which prohibits people from possessing, selling, trading or distributing shark fins. The state House of Representatives approved the measure in April and it now heads back to the House for a concurrence vote before being sent to Gov. John Kitzhaber for his consideration. The bill was approved unanimously by both chambers.

More than 73 million sharks are killed annually primarily for their fins, which are often harvested through “finning,” a practice that involves slicing off the fins of a shark and discarding the animal at sea to drown or bleed to death. Unsustainable fishing methods have led some shark populations to decline by as much as 99 percent in recent decades.

“The unanimous votes by both chambers of the Oregon State Legislature send an unequivocal message that our state will not tolerate the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning,” said Scott Beckstead, senior state director for The HSUS in Oregon. “We commend Oregon’s lawmakers for taking a stand for the world’s top oceanic predators, and are especially grateful to Representative Witt for his leadership by introducing this bill and shepherding it through the legislative process.”

Similar laws banning the sale of shark fin products have been passed in Hawaii, Washington, the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, and one is before the legislature in California. Additionally, in January, President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act which strengthens the federal law to combat shark finning at sea.

Often the most expensive item on restaurant menus, shark fin soup is customarily served at Chinese weddings or banquets. The status symbol associated with consuming shark fins is the main driver of the multi-billion dollar international shark fin trade. The dish is highly controversial because of the manner in which shark fins are harvested and the precarious status of many shark populations.

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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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