On April 16, the Texas House took a significant step toward protecting sharks and oceans by passing House Bill 1579, which would make it illegal to buy or sell shark fins in Texas.
The House vote came after more than 24,000 Oceana Wavemakers signed a petition urging for the bill’s passage.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-District 38), now moves to the Texas Senate, where a similar piece of legislation failed to pass in 2013. It’s crucial that this bill does not fail again.
If this legislation becomes law, Texas would become the 10th state to crack down on the shark fin trade and a very important state to do so. In recent years, Texas has become responsible for approximately 50 percent of the remaining U.S. trade in shark fins since nine other states banned such products. Curtailing the fin trade here would be a big win.
Sharks desperately need our help, and shark fin bans like this one make a difference. Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year simply to supply the wasteful demand for shark fin soup. Sharks cannot sustain current slaughter rates, and their survival affects all marine species and ocean ecosystems.
A shark caught for finning faces a horrible fate. The shark’s fins are cut off — often when it is still alive — then the bleeding body is thrown back into the ocean, only to drown, starve or die a slow death.
The federal government banned shark finning in U.S. waters in 2000, but fins from sharks caught illegally or unsustainably by other nations can still be imported into the U.S. in all but nine states. Closing the market for fins in remaining states is an important step in diminishing demand and the continued slaughter around the world.
We simply cannot allow these iconic species to be wiped out.
Wavemakers like you have helped get us this far — let’s not stop now.