The same bill last year had 263 House cosponsors and is poised to pass in the chamber
Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Reps. Gregorio Sablan (D-NMI) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) introduced the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act of 2019 to end the trade in shark fins. The measure would prohibit the import, export, possession, trade, and distribution of shark fins and products containing shark fins. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) intend to introduce a companion bill soon.
As many as 73 million sharks, according to some estimates, are finned annually across the globe. The shark killers cut off the fins, typically while the creature is alive and often throw the mutilated animal back into the ocean to suffer and die. Reckless and unsustainable killing of these apex predators degrades and destabilizes ocean ecosystems, and dozens of shark species are facing existential threats. Because of shark finning and other human-caused forms of mortality, shark death rates exceeding birth and survivorship rates by as much as 30 percent.
“We have acted to stop the killing of elephants for their tusks and rhinos for their horns. Likewise we should stop the abhorent practice of killing of sharks just for their fins,” said Holly Gann, Director of Federal Affairs, Animal Wellness Action.
“The strong, bipartisan support for this legislation sends a clear message that we have to pay more attention to protecting the Earth’s oceans and the life within those oceans. Banning the sale of shark fins to help end this wasteful and cruel practice is important, but just a small step on the way to giving the oceans the full respect they must have in federal law. Ultimately, all life on Earth depends on the health of the oceans,” said U.S. Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan.
The act of shark finning and possession of shark fins aboard a vessel is currently prohibited in U.S. waters under the 2010 Shark Conservation Act, but the law does not stop the domestic trade in their parts. In the U.S., sharks fins derived from cruel fishing practices around the world are sold here.
“The number of human attacks on sharks is in the tens of millions annually, while shark attacks on humans are in the dozens,” added Wayne Pacelle, founder of Animal Wellness Action. “We must stop demonizing and destroying these ocean predators and start to assume some responsibility for treating all of God’s creatures with respect and mercy.”