The U.S. Senate has passed a bill that, if enacted into law, will ban the buying and selling of shark fins and products containing shark fins in the country. The Shark Fin Sales Elimination act is part of larger legislation, the Innovation and Competition Act.
The bill was initially introduced in 2019, when it was passed with acclamation from both parties. However, due to the failure of the Senate to take action, it was not turned into law at that time. It was recently reintroduced by representative Gregorio Sablan (D-MNI) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) with the stand-alone act being the focal point. The bill is now headed to the House of Representatives.
“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,” Sablan said, as reported by VegNews.
In 2010, a Shark Conservation Act was passed, prohibiting the act of finning and possession of fins upon a vessel in U.S. waters. However, the law provided loopholes for those who source shark fins from international markets. The law also failed to consider the sale of fins in the domestic market.
Today, over 73 million shark fins are on the global market annually. These fins come from around the world. When sharks are captured, fins are removed by fishermen before they are released back to the water to die. Of the 73 million sharks that end up on the global market, the U.S. alone imports about 540,000 pounds of fins per year based on 2017 data.
Sablan said that banning the sale of sharks is the only way to stop the “wasteful and cruel practice.” Scientists and conservationists have long lamented about the cruel way in which fishermen harvest shark fins. Sablan also emphasized that sharks are an important part of the marine ecosystem, and all life on Earth depends on healthy oceans.
Image via Gerald Schömbs