Stop Shark Finning

  • by: The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • target: U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; cc: Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA
An estimated 73 million sharks around the world are killed every year, primarily for their fins, which are used in the Asian delicacy shark fin soup. Too often, fishermen slice off the valuable fins and discard the bodies at sea. This wasteful practice is known as "finning". Finning was banned in all U.S. waters in 2000, but loopholes in the law hamper effective enforcement. As a result of this high demand and lax fishing limits, many shark species, including hammerheads and makos, are now threatened with extinction.

The Shark Conservation Act, introduced by Senator John Kerry (D-MA), would ban removal of shark fins at sea, close other loopholes in the current U.S. shark finning law and promote the conservation of sharks internationally.

Please let your Senator know that passing the Shark Conservation Act is a priority.
Dear Senator [Name],

Shark finning, or removing a shark's fin at sea and tossing the animal overboard, is decimating shark populations across the globe. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, more than half of highly migratory sharks are either overexploited or depleted and up to 73 million sharks are killed each year to support the global fin trade.

In 2007, the 9th Circuit court ruled in favor of a U.S. vessel possessing 32 tons of shark fins without the corresponding carcasses. The decision was a green light for the sale and transport of valuable shark fins to occur in U.S. waters. That decision illustrated a gaping hole in current law meant to protect sharks and prohibit the wasteful act of finning.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, you have the ability to advance legislation that would end shark finning the United States for good, and promote shark conservation by other fishing nations. The Shark Conservation Act of 2009 (S. 850) would eliminate loopholes in our current law and help sharks by:

* Requiring sharks are brought to port with their fins attached to their bodies on all U.S. coasts;
* Prohibiting all U.S. flagged vessels from having custody, control or possession of shark fins without the corresponding carcass (not just fishing vessels, as current law does); and
* Granting U.S. authorities the ability to restrict imports from countries identified as lacking comparable shark conservation measures at their discretion - promoting the end of shark finning around the world.

[Your comment here]

I hope you too share my concern about declining shark populations and the impacts that the gradual disappearance of a top predator may have on our oceans. I urge you to support S.850 in committee, and prioritize passage of the legislation before the end of the year.
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