Friday, January 9, 2009

Shark Conservation Act: shark finning legislation re-introduced in U.S. Congress

Another piece of shark news that could prove to be a success if we all get behind it and push is the Shark Conservation Act (HR 81) recently introduced in the U.S. Congress. This piece of legislation closes a loophole in previous legislation - a loophole that was supposed to be taken care of by last year's HR 5741 which unfortunately stalled in the Senate until the session expired.

Re-introduced by Congresswoman Madeleine Bardallo (Guam), the Shark Conservation Act requires that all sharks taken in U.S. waters must have the fins naturally attached - Want the fins? Then you must take the whole animal.

Wait, you say! Isn't shark finning illegal in the U.S.? Well, yes and no. In Pacific waters, it is legal to transport fins as long as they were not finned aboard the vessel - a loophole that this legislation will close. The benefits of this legislation are two-fold:

  1. It will prevent shark finning in U.S. Pacific waters and possibly impact the practice outside of U.S. territorial jurisdiction.
  2. It will allow for better enforcement of existing regulations and improved management of the commercial fishing industry in the taking of sharks or shark-related products.
  3. A more subtle impact will be that boats will be financially pressured to reconsider the commercial value of taking sharks when they must fill hold space with the lower valued carcass along with the higher valued fins. This could in time, reduce the commercial take of sharks all together.
The Shark Conservation Act must make its way through the halls of Congress and on to the Senate for final passage and implementation. To motivate your congressperson, you can make your voice heard through Oceana.org's Wavemakers web page which will forward your personal email to your elected representative. Here's the link.

Let your voice be heard!

1 comment:

Hilary said...

Thanks for following this bill! I followed HR 5741 last year and I am anxious to see the Senate version get through this year!