The demand for shark fins is still one of the greatest threats facing shark populations around the world, usually intended as an ingredient in shark fin soup. Fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global market every year, and more than 70 percent of the most common shark species involved with the fin trade are considered at high or very high risk of extinction. Sharks declines and extinction can have significant impacts on marine ecosystems. Many species of sharks are top predators and have the potential to structure ecosystems in crucial ways, triggering domino effects through the food chain. On September 22nd, 2016, Mission Blue alongside 80 other NGO’s sent this letter to Congress urging support and passage of the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act.
Following the letter, on March 9th, 2017, Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (I-M.P.) introduced the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, which would ban the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States. The term ‘sales’ is key- while shark finning, the act of cutting the fins off of a shark and discarding its body at sea, is illegal in U.S. waters, shark fins continue to be bought and sold throughout the U.S. Representative Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, remarks:
“The United States can set an example for the rest of the world by shutting down its market for shark fins, which are often harvested by leaving these animals to die a slow and painful death at the bottom of the ocean. The bipartisan Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act is a step towards eradicating shark finning for good.”
By prohibiting the sale of shark fins in the United States, this piece of legislation will remove the United States from the global fin trade, improve enforcement of the current finning ban in the United States, and reinforce the status of the United States as a leader in shark conservation. According to an Oceana report released last year, a nationwide ban would reduce the international fin trade, improve upon current enforcement capabilities and reinforce the status of the United States as a leader in shark conservation. And in-depth polling by Oceana revealed:
• 8 in 10 people support a shark fin trade ban
• 89% of voters agree that shark finning is a cruel and wasteful practice
• 75% of registered Republicans support the legislation
• 84% of registered Democrats support the legislation
• 91% of Americans 65 years and older register the highest amount of support for the bill
• 84% of women support the bill and 76% of men support the bill
We applaud Representative’s Royce and Sablan for taking a firm stance on ending the cruel practice of shark finning. Sharks are more valuable alive and swimming in our oceans than in a bowl of soup, don’t you agree? Eleven U.S. states have already passed bans on fins, and now we need to take this movement nationwide. Tell your member of Congress to support the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act today and protect these magnificent creatures!
Join the conversation! #FinBanNow