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August 17, 2012

The HSUS Urges Pennsylvania Lawmakers to Protect Sharks from the Fin Trade

The Humane Society of the United States praised Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery/Delaware, for introducing Senate Bill 1578, legislation to prohibit the sale of shark fins in Pennsylvania. The market for shark fins fuels the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning, which is banned in the waters off of the United States but remains legal in many parts of the world.

SB 1578 would prohibit the sale, possession or distribution of shark fins in the commonwealth, closing a major enforcement loophole in existing law. Should this law pass, Pennsylvania would become the sixth state to ban the possession and sale of shark fins. Similar legislation has been enacted in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon and Washington as well as in the U.S. territories of Guam and the Marianna Islands.

"I couldn't be happier to partner with The Humane Society of the United States on this vital issue. While the ocean seems a long way from the Capitol in Harrisburg, we must be ever mindful that Pennsylvania's policies still impact the marine environment,” said Sen. Leach.  “Banning the sale of shark fins is a common-sense step toward protecting the already stressed shark populations."

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 animals. Some species of shark are on the brink of extinction due to the cruel and exploitive shark fin industry.  

"Thanks to Senator Leach, Pennsylvania has the opportunity to help end the senseless and cruel slaughter of one of the greatest predators of the world's oceans,” said Sarah Speed, Pennsylvania state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “This bill will ensure that Pennsylvanians do not provide a market for shark fins and at the same time, help balance the world’s ecology and oceans."

The bill will be heard in the Judiciary committee this fall. The HSUS urges the Pennsylvania legislature to approve this important measure.

Facts about shark finning:

  • Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year 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 our oceans’ ecosystems.
  • Unlike other fish species, sharks produce few pups, and thus, many species are endangered and/or threatened due to the fin trade.
  • In 2011, President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act which closed critical loopholes in the federal law to improve enforcement, such as requiring boats to land sharks with their fins still attached. Federal and state laws prohibiting the practice of shark finning are insufficient to address the U.S. market for shark fins, yet states are not federally preempted from doing so.
  • The majority of shark fins sold in the U.S. come from Hong Kong, which receives its supply of fins from at least 80 countries, most of which have lax and ineffective shark finning bans.

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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