U.S. House Passes Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act

file photo
file photo

Published Nov 24, 2019 3:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. House has passed the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, H.R. 737, led by U.S. Reps. Gregorio Sablan (D-NMI) and Michael McCaul (R-TX). 

The act prohibits the import, export, possession, trade and distribution of shark fins or products containing shark fins, and it was passed by a margin of 310 to 107. U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) also introduced a companion bill that the Senate Commerce Committee has already approved.

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. 

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. Because of shark finning and other human-caused forms of mortality, shark death rates among some species exceeding birth and survivorship rates by as much as 30 percent.

Sablan said: "I thank my colleagues from both sides of the aisle and especially my good friend, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, for working tirelessly with me on the bill. Our legislation is an effective, no-cost way to remove the United States from the harmful shark fin trade that contributes to the loss of up to 73 million sharks each year. Three territories and a dozen states already have a ban in their laws. It’s high time the House has joined them, and it is my hope the Senate quickly acts so we can end our contribution to the global trade of shark fins.”

“We shouldn’t kill elephants for their ivory, rhinos for their horns, or sharks for their fins,” said Wayne Pacelle, founder of Animal Wellness Action. “It is wasteful and barbaric.”

Oceana campaign director Whitney Webber released the following statement: “Sharks have survived for millions of years – since before the dinosaurs – but their future is now in question. The demand for shark fins is decimating shark populations and the U.S. must now do its part to help protect them. Oceana applauds the House for passing this important legislation. Now it’s time for the Senate to do the same. This legislation is a bright spot of bipartisanship in Congress. Passing this bill into law will take the U.S. out of the fin trade and reduce the demand for fins. It’s time for the U.S. to once again be a leader in shark conservation. The U.S. needs a fin ban now.”