The U.S. House just passed The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (H.R. 737), this bill makes it illegal to possess, buy, or sell shark fins in the United States!
THE FACTS: The passed bill bans the commercial sale of shark fins, including all imports, exports, trade, distribution and possession for commercial purposes of shark fins and products containing shark fins. The US imported 540,000 pounds of fins in 2017, so the bill passing will stop this annual death toll and reduce the US’s impact on the global shark fin market. The ban however does not prohibit shark fishermen from fishing for sharks or selling their meat. It also still permits recreational fishermen to hold onto shark fins for “non-commercial use”.
BEHIND THE SCENES: Shark finning (referring to the removal and retention of the shark fins and discarding the carcass at sea) is currently illegal in US waters. The sale of shark fins (as stated in the above ban) is already illegal in 13 states and three U.S. territories however in the remaining 37 states it is legal to buy and sell shark fins. Many have argued that banning it in one state only moves the trade to another, perpetuating the demand for shark fins and shark fin products. A total ban, which H.R. 737 calls for, will remove the US from the domestic and international shark fin trade altogether. Congressman Kilili Sablan, US Delegate for the Northern Mariana Islands and one of the top House Members working on animal protection issues, put forward this bill to close the current loopholes and ban the sale of shark fins throughout the US.
Both the ecological and economic benefits to passing the bill were addressed during the discussions. Money, so we are told, is what makes the world go around, so Congressman Sablan pointed out that in Florida alone tourists who go diving to see sharks create 200 times the economic value than the trade of shark fins for the entire US! Forgetting the economic benefits, we are all acutely aware of how cruel the practice of finning is and it is without a doubt one of the most horrific acts of animal cruelty in our oceans. Alongside this, the impacts of reduced shark populations are devastating, causing chain reactions that effect everything from algae to other apex predators.
The bill was supported by conservation giants such as Oceana, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, Animal Welfare Institute, Animal Wellness Action, and other groups.
SO WHAT NOW? The last step is that it needs to be passed by the Senate so the pressure and passion behind this bill needs to continue. If you are not a US citizen then please keep signing the below petitions, your voice is still important. If you are an American citizen make sure you are heard by emailing/phoning/writing to your local senate (use this guide to find their contact details - https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm). Only then can the US remove itself from the devastating effects of the global shark fin trade.
Click the link below to sign the petition for Oceana:
Click the link below to sign the Change.org petition for Shark Stewards:
Click the link below to sign the Care 2 petition for Humane Society: