Washington Passes Legislation Protecting Sharks - Oceana USA

Washington Passes Legislation Protecting Sharks

Oceana Commends Action to Prevent Trade of Shark Fins

Press Release Date: April 6, 2011

Location: Olympia, WA


Dustin Cranor, APR | email: dcranor@oceana.org | tel: 954.348.1314



Oceana Commends Action to Prevent Trade of Shark Fins


Olympia, WA- Protection of sharks and ocean ecosystems is the focus of legislation that passed the Washington House of Representatives by an overwhelming 95-1 vote last night.  The legislation, SB 5688, which previously passed the Washington Senate by a unanimous vote, seeks to protect shark populations by banning the illegal trade of shark fins in Washington. Oceana commends Senators Ranker, Swecker, Rockefeller, Litzow, Shin, and Kline for their extraordinary leadership to protect a species that has been swimming the world’s oceans for more than 400 million years

“This legislation is an excellent example of a state taking action to address a global problem,” said Whit Sheard, Senior Advisor and Pacific Counsel for Oceana. “This bill will help us move closer to ending the wasteful and unnecessary depletion of our ocean’s top predators.”

Each year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins, mostly to make shark fin soup. In this wasteful and cruel practice, a shark’s fins are sliced off while at sea and the remainder of the animal is thrown back into the water to die. Without fins, sharks bleed to death, drown, or are eaten by other species. In recent decades some shark populations have declined by as much as 99%. Removing sharks from ocean ecosystems can destabilize the system and even lead to the eventual disappearance of other populations, including commercially-caught fish and shellfish species lower in the food web.

While shark finning is illegal in the U.S., current federal laws banning shark finning do not address the issue of the shark fin trade. Therefore, fins are being imported to the U.S. from countries with few or even no shark protections in place.  Similar legislation passed recently in Hawaii and is pending in Oregon and California. 


Oceana campaigns to protect and restore the world’s oceans. Our teams of marine scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates win specific and concrete policy changes to reduce pollution and to prevent the irreversible collapse of fish populations, marine mammals and other sea life. Global in scope and dedicated to conservation, Oceana has campaigners based in North America (Washington, DC; Juneau, AK; Kotzebue, AK; Portland, OR; Monterey, CA; New York, NY), Europe (Madrid, Spain; Brussels, Belgium),Central America (Belize City, Belize,) and South America (Santiago, Chile).  More than 500,000 members and e-activists in over 150 countries have already joined Oceana.