The demand for shark fins is one of the greatest threats facing shark populations, so it’s no surprise that eight in 10 Americans support the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act (HR 5584), which would ban the trade of shark fins in the United States. The bipartisan bill was introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Reps. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (I-MP) and Ed Royce (R-CA).
The demand for shark fins is one of the greatest threats facing shark populations around the world. In fact, fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global market every year, putting some species at risk of extinction. The global demand for shark fins drives the practice of finning, which involves cutting off a shark’s fins and often tossing the body overboard to drown, bleed to death or be eaten by other predators.
Although the act of shark finning itself is illegal in U.S. waters, the fins can still be bought and sold throughout the United States. Some of those fins may come from sharks legally caught for their meat in a managed U.S. fishery, but others are imported from abroad, where similar protections may not be in place. Oceana recently released a report outlining the scientific arguments for why Congress needs to pass a federal ban on the buying and selling of shark fin products, which would improve upon current enforcement capabilities and reinforce the status of the United States as a leader in shark conservation.
To gauge the opinions of Americans on the issue and the proposed legislation, the non-partisan polling company icitizen surveyed 1,000 registered American voters online from July 12-15. It found that 81 percent of Americans support the legislation, including 84 percent of registered Democrats and 75 percent of registered Republicans.
It is clear that ending the U.S. fin trade is a bipartisan issue that Americans support.
The poll also found that 89 percent of voters agree that shark finning is a cruel and wasteful practice. The majority of both men and women support the bill, with women being slightly higher in support at 84 percent versus 76 percent, respectively. Despite the slight difference, the legislation seems to have support all across the board, with the highest among seniors at 91 percent. In Florida, a subsample of 107 voters indicated that 88 percent support the bill – and no wonder considering the business that can be made off of shark ecotourism.
“It’s clear that Americans support a ban on the trade of shark fins—and Congress should listen,” said Oceana campaign director Lora Snyder. “The demand for shark fins, a demand the U.S. currently perpetuates, encourages the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning and is decimating shark populations worldwide, much like the demand for elephant tusks and rhino horns has severely jeopardized those animal populations. Currently, 11 U.S. states have taken action to protect sharks and have banned the sale of fins, but the rest of the country needs to follow their example. The American public knows that shark fins have no place in the United States.”
The poll results are a step toward a win for shark conservation and ending the cruel practice of shark finning. This proven support from Americans to end the trade that supports such a cruel practice should push Congress to pass the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act.