Bill Banning Trade of Shark Fins in the U.S. is Reintroduced in Congress

Shark finning is a cruel and inhumane practice. The meat of sharks is not as desirable as that of other fish, and their large bodies take up an immense portion of precious cargo space. Therefore, sharks are caught and brought on board, where their fins are sliced off, then thrown back into the sea, typically still alive, where they are left to drown or bleed to death. Not only is this practice brutal, but incredibly wasteful as only about 5 percent of the shark’s body weight is being used while the rest is thrown away.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Maridav

This practice is primarily kept alive due to the high demand for shark fin soup. Approximately 100 million sharks are killed each year to supply the main ingredient for this “fish wing” soup. This luxury dish, which can be traced back to an emperor from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) who invented the dish as a way to flaunt his power and wealth, is now typically served at weddings and continues to be highly valued in Chinese culture.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Freer

Last week, a bill that would ban the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States was reintroduced to the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill is sponsored by representatives Gregoria Kilili Sablan (I-MP) and Michael McCaul (R-TX). A similar bill was introduced to the last Congress, and despite passing the House and gaining 47 Senators to be cosponsors, the bill was blocked along the way.

“We’re confident this Congress can get the bill passed. 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,” said Whitney Webber, Campaign Director at Oceana, in a statement. “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.”

Photo: Adobe Stock/ajkramer

Although the practice of shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, this new bill hopes to eradicate the practice entirely by preventing the sell or purchase of a shark’s fin. Banning the practice has been a long-fought battle and some states, such as California, have attempted to discourage it as much as possible by making it illegal for restaurants to possess, sell or serve shark fin dishes. A newly-lit fire erupted from the conservation community in 2017 when U.S. President Donald Trump met with the heads of state in Vietnam and indulged in shark fin soup.

“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,” Webber continued. “We look to finding a path forward on this important issue that a majority of Americans support. The U.S. needs a fin ban now.”

Photo: Adobe Stock/Lewis Tse Pui Lung

Shark finning is a vicious practice that is quickly dwindling our shark population down to nothing. There is no need for sharks to be brutalized and left to die for a luxury soup that costs about $100 and simple serves as a statement of privilege and wealth. As shark populations dwindle, our marine ecosystems across the world see irreparable damage. Take action today and sign this petition to protect these important ecosystems, undercut overfishing of sharks, and ban all aspects of the shark fin trade!

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