U.S. lawmakers this week reintroduced legislation that would ban the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States.
The bill was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Gregoria Kilili Sablan (I-MP) and Michael McCaul (R-TX).
Similar legislation was introduced in the last Congress, passing the House by a 310-107 vote. It also cleared the Senate Commerce Committee and garnered the support of 47 Senate cosponsors, but never came to a vote on the Senate floor.
Whitney Webber, campaign director at Oceana, said she was confident the bill would pass this time:
“It’s rare to find an issue that brings together the political, business and conservation communities. We applaud Reps. Sablan and McCaul for their continued leadership to take the United States out of the shark fin trade once and for all.
“We know the demand for fins is decimating shark populations around the world and this is a clear and easy way to help reduce it. It’s time for the U.S. to once again be a leader in shark conservation. We must join our allies in Canada, who have closed their borders to the destructive shark fin trade and do the same in the United States. We look forward to finding a path forward on this important issue that a majority of Americans support. The U.S. needs a fin ban now.”
A study published in Nature earlier this year found that global oceanic shark and ray populations have declined by more than 70% over the last 50 years, with overfishing as the primary cause.
Oceana says the global shark fin trade is a major driver of overfishing and the decline of shark populations around the world, with fins from as many as 73 million sharks ending up in the market every year. The Nature study called for “proactive measures to prevent total collapse, this should be a wake-up call for policymakers.”