WASHINGTON - The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (H.R. 737) passed the U.S. House of Representatives today by a vote of 310 v 107. This critical bill, led by Reps. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, D-Northern Mariana Islands, and Michael McCaul, R-Texas, prohibits the commercial trade of shark fins and products containing shark fins in the U.S.

Every year, tens of millions of sharks die agonizing deaths after being cruelly finned alive—all for a delicacy in Asia called shark fin soup. Sharks are a hugely important species for the health of our oceans. As top predators, they help keep balance in their habitats. According to research, fins from as many as 73 million sharks are used every year to supply the global trade in shark fins.

Current U.S. law already prohibits shark finning but does not go far enough to protect shark populations, as some populations have declined by as much as 90% in recent decades. Shark fins sold in the U.S. come from all over the world, including locations which have no bans on finning. By banning the trade of shark fins, the U.S. will help to alleviate shark finning, reduce the global demand for shark fins and conserve shark populations.

“We commend the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “This vote sends a strong signal that Congress is taking the decimation of shark populations worldwide seriously, and subsequently taking action to remove the U.S. from the incredibly cruel, ecologically damaging global shark fin trade. We hope this momentum continues in the Senate.”

“As apex species, sharks are invaluable contributors to their ecosystems—much more valuable alive than they are in a bowl of soup,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “We thank Representatives Sablan and McCaul for introducing this important piece of legislation. By passing the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, the U.S. House of Representatives has taken a significant step toward eliminating extinction of these remarkable creatures.”

“After years of hard work, I am tremendously thankful that my colleagues in the House from both sides of the aisle voted to advance my bill, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act. The bill is an effective, no-cost way to remove the United States from the harmful shark fin trade that contributes to the loss of up to 73 million sharks each year,” said Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, D-Northern Mariana Islands. “A dozen states and three territories already have a ban in their laws. Shark fin bans are also supported by numerous airlines and shipping companies, major corporations, and hundreds of U.S. businesses and organizations. However, the work is not over. The Senate must also act to pass this critical legislation and get it to the President’s desk so we can finally get our country out of the devastating global shark fin trade.”

“Today, Congress struck down animal cruelty by voting in favor of the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act. After sharks are captured, fisherman will remove their fins and release them back into the ocean to die. Sharks play a vital role in our marine ecosystem, serving as an indicator of the overall health of our ocean,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas. “The survival of these majestic creatures is of great importance and this bill will help ensure they are around for decades to come. I am proud to work alongside colleagues who have taken a stand against this atrocity today.”

The only way to end the inhumane treatment of sharks at sea and protect shark populations is to ban the trade in shark fin products. Prohibiting the U.S. trade in shark fins will promote the nation’s leadership in global shark conservation.

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