Shark Conservation Act of 2009 Approaches the Finish Line in Senate

Washington, DC—Following the swift and unanimous passage by the House of Representatives in March of this year, the Senate’s companion bill, S. 850, the Shark Conservation Act of 2009, moved out of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee today by voice vote. The bill now heads to the floor where it awaits consideration by the full Senate. A vote has not been scheduled.

Senator John Kerry (D-MA), who introduced the bill and is a leading proponent of marine life protection, was also a sponsor of the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 signed by President Bill Clinton. Following passage of the initial bill, shark finning—whereby the fins of a living shark are routinely removed to create "delicacies" such as shark fin soup and the animal is discarded back into the sea to die an agonizing death—has been illegal in the United States since 2000 but enforcement was impeded by loopholes in the ban.

The passage of S. 850 ensures termination of the cruel and illegal act of shark finning in all US waters as Congress intended in 2000, and encourages other nations to follow suit. It also provides for clear rules for enforcement officials who, under the present system, were unable to identify shark species once fins were removed. Accurate species identification ensures endangered species are not being harvested and finning is not occurring.

Animal Welfare Institute President Cathy Liss said, "Shark finning is a cruel, frivolous and painful assault on myriad shark species facing decline on a global basis, and we are pleased that their protection from shark finning is now imminent. We look forward to the Senate taking immediate action on this responsible and bipartisan legislation."

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