As apex predators, sharks play a vital role in marine ecosystems around the world. However, their populations are being decimated at an alarming rate; the International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that a quarter of sharks and related species are threatened with extinction. Shark populations are largely diminishing, primarily due to the global demand for shark fins. Fins are often removed via the horrific practice of “finning”—in which the shark’s fins are cut off while the shark is still alive, after which the conscious, finless animal is typically discarded into the ocean to die of suffocation or predation since the animal is unable to swim.
Every year, fins from up to 73 million sharks enter the global market, with studies showing that 91.3 percent of those fins are from unsustainable sources. While shark finning in US waters is illegal, the United States continues to perpetuate the practice by providing a market for shark fin products.
With previous legislation, Congress has made clear its stance on the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning; however, loopholes remain. The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (H.R. 737/ S. 877), a bill currently before Congress, would close those loopholes by prohibiting the sale, purchase, and possession of shark fins in the United States—thus removing the US from the domestic and international shark fin trade.
This federal prohibition would also take the responsible next step of bringing federal law in line with trade and possession bans already in place in twelve states and three territories as well as ensuring that our country remains a leader in global conservation efforts to protect shark species from extinction.
Email, call, or write your US representative and senators today and urge them to cosponsor the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (HR 737/ S. 877). You can email your legislators through AWI's Compassion Index by clicking here.
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