March 2, 2011
Help Us End the Unspeakably Cruel Shark Fin Trade
Shark finning is the gruesome practice of cutting a shark’s fins while it is still alive. The shark is then tossed back into the water to slowly bleed to death or drown. The fact that at least 73 million sharks — many of whom are endangered species — suffer this unspeakable fate each year is astonishing.
Rep. Brad Witt (D-31) has introduced House Bill 2838 to prohibit possessing, selling, offering for sale, trading or distributing shark fins. The bill would allow people to keep (but not sell, offer to sell, trade or distribute) shark fins possessed prior to the bill’s enactment.
Sharks play a significant role in balancing fish populations in the ocean ecosystem. Because they reach sexual maturity late in life and typically birth small litters, sharks are particularly susceptible to overfishing. Marine biologists have reported a 99 percent decline in oceanic white-tip sharks in the Gulf of Mexico over the past 15 years and an 89 percent decline in hammerhead sharks in the northwest Atlantic.
Congress recognized the need to address these rapid declines by passing the Shark Conservation Act of 2010. While the act prohibits importing shark fins into the United States unless the entire shark is used, unlike HB 2838, it does not apply to foreign-registered boats and does not ban the sale of shark fins.
HB 2838 now is in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Ask Committee Co-Chairmen Brian Clem and Bob Jenson to set it for a hearing and a favorable vote today.
In the spirit of compassionate conservation,