Progress for Sharks: Senate Commerce Committee Advances Bill to Ban Shark Fins Nationwide

Posted May 18, 2017

Fins from up to 73 Million Sharks End Up in Global Trade Every Year
WASHINGTON –Today, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation voted to pass the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act (S. 793), which would ban the buying and selling of processed shark fins in the United States.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced earlier this year by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R- W. Va.). While shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, shark fins – including imports from countries that allow finning – continue to be bought and sold throughout the U.S. The demand for shark fins is one of the greatest threats facing shark populations around the world.


Oceana applauded today’s vote and released the following statement from campaign director Lora Snyder:

“Oceana commends the Senate Commerce Committee for listening to the majority of Americans and taking a stand against shark fins. This piece of legislation represents an opportunity to reinforce the status of the United States as a leader in shark conservation and is a step in the right direction for the United States to be removed from the fin trade altogether.

Worldwide, sharks are under attack – from humans. Much like rhino and elephant populations have been decimated due to the global market for their horns and tusks, sharks are targeted for their fins, and it is equally as devastating. In fact, some shark populations have declined more than 90 percent in recent decades due to the demand for their fins.

We urge Congress to pass the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act before it’s too late.”

The global shark fin trade has led to the wasteful and inhumane practice of shark finning – cutting the fins off of a shark and discarding its body at sea, often still alive, only to drown, bleed to death or be eaten alive. Some shark populations have declined by more than 90 percent in recent decades due to overfishing. Fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global market every year, and more than 70 percent of the 14 most common shark species involved in the Hong Kong trade are considered at high or very high risk of extinction. Shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, however shark fins can legally be bought and sold throughout the U.S.

In March, Oceana released an independent report finding that shark-related dives in Florida generated more than $221 million in revenue and fueled over 3,700 jobs in 2016. This stands in stark contrast with the total U.S. shark fin export market ($1.03 million in 2015). In fact, over 100 dive-business owners from the state of Florida sent a letter to the Florida delegation urging them to support the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act.

Supporters of a national ban on shark fins include 240 businesses, 129 non-profits, nine aquariums and multiple recreational fishing interests. Last year, Oceana released a poll revealing that eight in 10 Americans support a national ban on the buying and selling of shark fins. Additionally, last month, more than 150 scientists from around the world sent a letter to Congress urging the passage of the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act.

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Louis Bacon and The Moore Charitable Foundation are partners with Oceana and support the passage of the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act.