On Earth Day 2021, Kilili reintroduces shark fin sales ban


WASHINGTON, D.C.—On Earth Day last week, Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Ind-MP) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) reintroduced the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, which bans the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States. The same bill, introduced by Sablan and McCaul, had strong bipartisan support and passed in the last Congress, but the Senate took no action.

The act of shark finning—cutting off the fin of a shark and then discarding the maimed animal, often still alive, back to sea—is illegal in the United States. However, these wrongly obtained fins are still imported and exported on American soil, which serves to legitimize the unethical trade chiefly responsible for sharks’ declining populations.

“The gruesome shark-finning practices are eliminating shark populations and putting many species on the brink of extinction,” said McCaul. “Sharks play a vital role in our marine ecosystem, serving as an indicator of the overall health of our ocean. Thus, making this bipartisan legislation that much more important as it will promote conservation and responsible fishing practices that are good for the environment and our economy.”

“The strong, bipartisan support for this legislation sends a clear message that we have to pay more attention to protecting the Earth’s oceans and the life within those oceans,” said Sablan. “Banning the sale of shark fins to help end this wasteful and cruel practice is important, but just a small step on the way to giving the oceans the full respect they must have in federal law. Ultimately, all life on Earth depends on the health of the oceans.”

Sablan and McCaul thanked Oceana, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, and the Animal Welfare Institute for those environmental organizations’ work to build legislative support for the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act. One-hundred-four House members agreed to be original cosponsors when the bill was introduced last week, more than twice the number of original cosponsors as in the last Congress.

“We’re confident this Congress can get the bill passed,” said Whitney Webber, campaign director at Oceana. “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.”

“Sharks are the ocean’s premier apex species and yet they are being killed for their fins faster than they can reproduce. Today, we applaud Reps. Sablan and McCaul for reintroducing their bill with an additional 103 bipartisan cosponsors. Expeditious passage of this legislation is critical to our oceans, because sharks are more valuable alive than in a bowl of soup,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

“Sharks have existed for hundreds of millions of years, and yet these remarkable apex predators now face one of the biggest threats to their survival because of the demand for their fins,” said Animal Welfare Institute president Cathy Liss. “Although shark finning is banned in U.S. waters, the United States remains a transit hub for the fin trade. Passing legislation to combat the global shark fin trade is essential to protect sharks and maintain functioning marine ecosystems. We are grateful to Representatives Sablan and McCaul for their steadfast leadership.”

Each year, 73 million shark fins end up on the global market—the United States contributes to this demand by importing fins, with 540,000 pounds imported in 2017, from around the world. This legislation will still allow for commercial and recreational fishing of sharks but would end the harmful trade of shark fins—the leading cause of the inhumane practice of shark finning. (PR)

Press Release
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