WASHINGTON –Today, more than 150 scientists from around the world sent a letter to Congress urging the passage of the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act (S. 793/H.R. 1456), which would ban the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States. The letter, led by Dr. Francesco Ferretti from the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University, states that a nationwide ban would “remove the United States from the global fin trade, improve enforcement of state bans, and reinforce the status of the United States as a leader in shark conservation.”
The bipartisan legislation was introduced earlier this year by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (I-M.P.). While shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, shark fins – including imports from countries that allow finning - continue to be bought and sold throughout the U.S. The demand for shark fins is one of the greatest threats facing shark populations around the world.
Excerpt from the letter:
“The conservation status of sharks is one of the most pressing biodiversity issues today. Many shark populations are declining worldwide because of fishing. Sharks have been a relatively stable force in ocean ecosystems over evolutionary time, and possess a unique combination of ecological traits that makes them especially vulnerable to exploitation. In the last few decades, exploitation of their populations has rapidly escalated, mainly due to an increased demand for shark fins from Asian markets.
Therefore we urge Congress to ban the sale of shark fins nationwide via the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act. Eleven states (Texas, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, California, and Washington) and 3 territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the North Mariana Islands) have already banned the trade of shark fin products. The Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act would remove the United States from the fin trade altogether, improve enforcement capabilities, and reinforce the states of the United States as a leader in shark conservation.”
Oceana campaign director Lora Snyder released the following statement in response to today’s letter:
“We commend these scientists for taking a stand for sharks by supporting a national shark fin trade ban. This letter clearly shows that many in the scientific community agree that the United States should remove itself from the fin trade altogether.
It’s not too late. The United States can set an example for the rest of the world to follow. Oceana stands with these leaders in the scientific community to urge Congress to pass the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act.”
The global shark fin trade has led to the wasteful and inhumane practice of shark finning – cutting the fins off of a shark and discarding its body at sea, often still alive, only to drown, bleed to death or be eaten alive. Some shark populations have declined by more than 90 percent in recent decades due to overfishing. Fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global market every year, and more than 70 percent of the 14 most common shark species involved in the Hong Kong trade are considered at high or very high risk of extinction.
In March, Oceana released an independent report finding that shark-related dives in Florida generated more than $221 million in revenue and fueled over 3,700 jobs in 2016. This stands in stark contrast with the total U.S. shark fin export market ($1.03 million in 2015).
Also, today, over 100 dive-business owners from the state of Florida sent a letter to Senator Nelson and the Florida delegation urging them to support the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act. Supporters of a national ban on shark fins include 240 businesses, 129 non-profits, nine aquariums and multiple recreational fishing interests. Last year, Oceana released a poll revealing that eight in 10 Americans support a national ban on the buying and selling of shark fins.
Scientists interested in adding their name should email Mariah Pfleger at [email protected].
To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org/FinBanNow.