Senate Committee Advances Shark Bill - Oceana USA
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April 5, 2019

Senate Committee Advances Shark Bill

Offshore drill moratorium press conference. Photo by Lindsay Orlowski/OCEANA.

This week, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation voted to advance the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (S.877/ H.R. 737), in a bipartisan effort to end the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States. Although shark finning is illegal in our waters, the import and export of shark fins in the U.S. continues to incentivize shark finning in other countries, many of which have inadequate protections in place for sharks.

Every organism in the ocean is connected by an intricate system of interactions known as the marine food web. Many sharks are at the top of the web, making them crucial to the health of the oceans. Declines in these top predators can have cascading effects on other marine life.

Unfortunately, many shark populations are declining. Each year fins from as many as 73 million sharks enter the global fin trade. The demand for their fins fuels the act of shark finning, slicing the fins off sharks at sea, often throwing the body overboard. Sharks that survive the mutilation are unable to swim, and are often left to suffocate, bleed out, or are left defenseless on the ocean floor. 

Sharks are worth more than just the price of their fins. An independent economic report found that shark-related dives in Florida generated more than $221 million in revenue and fueled over 3,700 jobs in 2016 alone. In contrast, the total U.S. shark fin export market generated less than $1 million that year.

Supporters of shark fin trade bans include 12 U.S. states, 40 airlines, 20 shipping companies, seven major corporations and over 645 U.S. businesses and organizations. According to a 2016 national poll, 8 in 10 Americans support a national ban on the buying and selling of shark fins. Additionally, more than 150 scientists, 150 chefs, and 85 surfers and surf businesses have sent letters to Congress urging the passage of a national shark fin ban.

Oceana applauds Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) for reintroducing the bill, as well as Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for their early support of this legislation. Their efforts will help reinforce America’s leadership in shark conservation. The reintroduction of this bill is the first step towards the end of the shark fin trade – contact your member of Congress today and ask them to support the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act to help protect sharks in the U.S. and worldwide.

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