Victory! President Biden Signs The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act Helping To Protect Sharks In The U.S.

In a long-awaited victory for sharks in the United States, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act was signed into law by President Biden on Friday. The news comes shortly after the bill was passed by the U.S. Senate last Thursday by a vote of 83-11 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 7776).

It is a monumental triumph as this critical measure prohibits the commercial trade of shark fins and products containing shark fins in the United States.

Even though sharks are vital to the health of our oceans, an estimated 100 million sharks are killed each year worldwide for their fins to be used in shark fin soup. Sadly, the soup is considered a delicacy and status symbol in some Asian cultures.

Many shark fins being sold are obtained through a process called finning, in which a shark’s fins are cut off while the shark is still alive. The animals are then thrown back into the ocean to die a slow and painful death from blood loss, predation, or starvation. Although shark finning is prohibited in U.S. waters, the market for fins in the United States incentivizes finning in international waters and the territorial waters of countries lacking protective policies or enforcement for marine species.

Shark populations around the world are decreasing, some by more than 90% due to the shark fin trade. The decimation of our earth’s sharks puts  critical marine environments at risk, as they play an important role in maintaining ecological balance in our oceans. Seventeen states and three U.S. territories have banned or restricted the intrastate sale of shark fins, but instituting a federal framework is critical as fins imported and sold in the U.S. can come from endangered or threatened shark species, or from sharks that were finned.

First introduced in 2016, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act was sponsored in the Senate (S. 1106) by Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and in the House (H.R. 2811) by Del. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, D-Northern Mariana Islands, and Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas.

“Today is a major victory for sharks. Oceana has campaigned to protect sharks as the demand for fins has continued to put them at risk. For too long, millions of sharks have been slaughtered for their fins, driving them toward extinction,” said Oceana’s Vice President for the United States, Beth Lowell. “This historic bill bans the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States, thereby removing our country from the global shark fin trade. We are grateful to all the hardworking House and Senate leaders for championing this bill and getting it over the finish line once and for all.”

“Sharks are worth more alive than in a bowl of soup. The shark fin trade, and wildlife trafficking broadly, have menacing implications, not just for animal welfare and conservation, but also for global security, given the corrupt and destabilizing influence of the criminal networks involved,” said Sara Amundson, President of Humane Society Legislative Fund. “The NDAA’s inclusion of this measure to end U.S. commerce in shark fins supports our nation’s strategic defense, enhancing the protection of wild animals and the establishment of a safer and better world for us all.”

“This is a monumental and long-awaited win for shark species and marine ecosystems across the globe,” said Susan Millward, Executive Director of the Animal Welfare Institute. “These remarkable apex predators have existed for hundreds of millions of years, yet the global demand for shark fins has contributed to the decimation of shark populations in just a few decades. The passage of the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act removes the United States as a major transit hub of shark fins, and reaffirms the United States’ leadership in shark conservation.”

“This victory is the capstone of almost a decade of work to pass federal legislation to end the United States’ participation in the cruel and ecologically damaging global shark fin trade,” said Kitty Block, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “We owe so much gratitude to Senators Booker and Capito, and Representatives Sablan and McCaul, for leading the charge to protect these important animals who are vital to the health of ocean ecosystems.”

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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