House Passes Legislation Banning the U.S. Shark Fin Trade - Oceana USA

House Passes Legislation Banning the U.S. Shark Fin Trade

National Defense Authorization Act Includes Provisions to End the U.S. Shark Fin Trade and Combat Illegal Fishing

Press Release Date: December 8, 2022

Location: Washington, DC

Contact:

Dustin Cranor, APR 954.348.1314

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, which includes a ban on the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States, among other ocean conservation provisions. The bill also provides the U.S. government with more tools to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. The bill is now headed to the Senate for a final vote before being sent to President Biden to be signed into law.

“Today, the House took an important step in passing the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes critical advancements in ocean conservation. This bill will finally remove the U.S. from the devastating shark fin trade once and for all. The demand for shark fins is driving many shark populations toward extinction, with 73 million sharks killed for their fins every year. This bill will also help to fight illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing by giving the U.S. more tools to take action against countries that fail to address these devastating and destructive practices in their fleets. Now it’s the Senate’s turn to pass this landmark, bipartisan package,” said Oceana’s vice president for the United States, Beth Lowell.

Background on U.S. Shark Fin Trade:

study published in Nature last year found that global oceanic shark and ray populations have declined by more than 70% over the last 50 years, with overfishing as the primary cause.

The demand for shark fins incentivizes overfishing and shark finning, the cruel and wasteful practice of removing a shark’s fins at sea and throwing its body back overboard where it drowns, starves to death, or is eaten alive by other fish. Fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global market every year. Just as rhino and elephant populations have declined due to the demand for their horns and tusks, the shark fin trade is jeopardizing the continued survival of many shark populations.

Although shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, fins can still be bought and sold throughout much of the United States. These fins are often imported from countries that have inadequate protections in place for sharks such as China, which still allows shark finning to take place in its waters. Not only are there fins from finned sharks in the U.S. marketplace, but the United States is also providing an economic incentive for other countries to fish for sharks in ways that are illegal in U.S. waters.

According to a poll released by Oceana in 2020, nearly 9 in 10 registered American voters oppose the practice of shark finning, and almost 80% support legislation to ban the sale and trade of shark fins throughout the United States. As of today, 13 states, more than 45 airlines, 15 major corporations (including Amazon, Hilton, and Disney), and 22 shipping companies have refused to transport or trade shark fins. Nearly 700 businesses — including more than 100 dive shops and scuba businesses, several aquariums, and SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment — support a national fin ban. Other support includes more than 150 scientists, 150 chefs, 140 fishermen, and 85 surfers, and surf businesses.