More than 150 scientists from around the world have joined the growing chorus calling on U.S. lawmakers to pass legislation that would ban the shark fin trade in the United States.
While shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, lawmakers in both U.S. chambers of Congress — the House of Representatives and the Senate — have introduced similar bills that would ban the buying and selling of shark fins in the country.
In a letter sent to lawmakers this week, the scientists argue that a nation-wide ban would “remove the United States from the global fin trade, improve enforcement of state bans, and reinforce the status of the United States as a leader in shark conservation.”
The scientists further write:
“The conservation status of sharks is one of the most pressing biodiversity issues today. Many shark populations are declining worldwide because of fishing. Sharks have been a relatively stable force in ocean ecosystems over evolutionary time, and possess a unique combination of ecological traits that makes them especially vulnerable to exploitation. In the last few decades, exploitation of their populations has rapidly escalated, mainly due to an increased demand for shark fins from Asian markets.
“Therefore we urge Congress to ban the sale of shark fins nationwide via the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act. Eleven states (Texas, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, California, and Washington) and 3 territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the North Mariana Islands) have already banned the trade of shark fin products. The Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act would remove the United States from the fin trade altogether, improve enforcement capabilities, and reinforce the states of the United States as a leader in shark conservation.”
Ocean activists are unsurprisingly pleased by the scientists’ letter. Oceana Campaign Director Lora Snyder said:
“We commend these scientists for taking a stand for sharks by supporting a national shark fin trade ban. This letter clearly shows that many in the scientific community agree that the United States should remove itself from the fin trade altogether.
“It’s not too late. The United States can set an example for the rest of the world to follow. Oceana stands with these leaders in the scientific community to urge Congress to pass the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act.”
Scientists aren’t the only ones calling for the shark fin ban bill, though.
Just last week, the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association urged all USA-based divers to call on their elected congressional representatives to support the legislation.
For more info on the legislation and shark finning in general, check out the Oceana website at oceana.org.