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May 1, 2013

Delaware Legislature Passes Bill to End Cruel and Unsustainable Shark Fin Trade

Governor urged to enact law to protect sharks and oceans

Sixteen major animal welfare, environmental and conservation organizations applaud the Delaware legislature for passing H.B. 41 to end Delaware’s contribution to the dire collapse of shark populations worldwide. The groups urge Gov. Jack Markell to sign the bill into law. If enacted, Delaware would join six states and all three Pacific U.S territories in passing similar laws to provide critical protection to sharks and preserve the health of the world’s ocean ecosystems by banning the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins.

Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow, prime sponsor of the bill in the House, said: “The Delaware legislature took a giant step in saving sharks, not only in our waters but around the world, by stopping the brutal cutting off of their fins. Our oceans need balance and sharks help to maintain that natural balance to preserve all wildlife for future generations.” 

Sen. Robert Venables, D-Laurel, prime sponsor in the Senate, said: “Considering the horrendous treatment of sharks, I was pleased to sponsor H.B. 41 along with Representative Jaques. Cutting off the fins of a shark and tossing it back into the ocean alive is not only cruel, but repugnant. I am hopeful that the passage of this bill will resolve this despicable action.”

Hetti Brown, Delaware state director for The Humane Society of the United States, said: “Tens of millions of sharks are inhumanely killed each year for their fins, and Delaware shouldn’t be part of the reason why. We are grateful to Representative Jaques and Senator Venables for their leadership on this issue, and we commend the legislature for taking this step toward protecting sharks. We hope Governor Markell responds in kind.”

The bipartisan state legislation has 18 additional sponsors. Similar legislation recently passed in Maryland and is awaiting Gov. Martin O’Malley’s signature. Lawmakers in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands have passed similar laws in recent years. The trade is spurred by the demand for shark fin soup, an expensive Chinese delicacy and status symbol commonly served at banquets and other celebrations.  

Facts:

  • The fins from up to 73 million sharks are used to make shark fin soup each year.
  • Conservation, fisheries enforcement and a shark finning ban in the U.S. alone are not enough to conserve sharks. A ban on shark fin products, such as H.B. 41, is the most effective way to eliminate the demand for shark fins and to eradicate shark finning around the world.
  • In March 2013, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species listed certain shark species on Appendix II – the first time shark species with high commercial value have been granted such protections in the 40-year history of the convention.
  • Shark fin soup is often the most expensive item on restaurant menus and typically served simply as a symbol of status. It has no nutritional value and 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 outside of the U.S. and the precarious status of many shark populations.
  • In 2011, President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act to strengthen the federal law against shark finning at sea and require that sharks be landed with their fins still attached.

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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