House Passes Measure Improving Shark Fin Ban

US Senate Follows Suit with a Companion Bill

Washington, DC—Yesterday, the House of Representatives unanimously voted in favor of H.R. 5741, the Shark Conservation Act of 2008. Introduced earlier this year by Subcommittee Chairwoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), the measure tightens the Shark Finning Prohibition Act, which was signed into law in 2000.

Later in the day, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) introduced S. 3231, an identical version of the Shark Conservation Act, in the US Senate. Senator Kerry has a long history of advocating for the protection of marine life, including sharks, and he was a lead sponsor of the Shark Finning Prohibition Act.

Since the original bill's passage, the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning whereby the fins of a living shark are removed and the animal is thrown back in the water to die has been illegal in the United States, but enforcement has been hampered by loopholes in the ban. "Sharks are vital to the health of marine ecosystems, but the practice of shark finning is driving their decline worldwide," said Chairwoman Bordallo. The Shark Conservation Act offers sharks much-needed protection by imposing a ban on shark finning which requires that sharks be landed with their fins still attached to their bodies.

"It's wonderful to see the House take this critical step forward in shark conservation. The Animal Welfare Institute commends Chairwoman Bordallo for her leadership on this important issue. We look forward to working with Senator Kerry and his colleagues in the Senate to secure enactment of the Shark Conservation Act of 2008." said AWI president Cathy Liss.

Sharks are extremely slow to recover from overfishing because they mature late in life, grow slowly and have very small populations. Unlike their fish relatives, sharks produce a handful of pups instead of a large number of eggs. Despite their biology and the increasing warnings from experts that sharks are disappearing, millions of sharks are targeted for their fins and millions more die annually as bycatch.

Since the bill places no restrictions on shark fin imports, AWI still encourages consumers to avoid restaurants that sell shark fin products. A list of these establishments and a fact sheet on the practice of shark finning are available on the AWI website. If you find a restaurant selling shark fin products that is not listed, please send an email with the contact information to [email protected].