Senate passes bill to restrict U.S. shark fin trading

Shark fins, used in Chinese shark fin soup, have become a valuable commodity in recent years. But activists warn shark finning could have dire consequences for both sharks and the temperamental ocean ecosystem.

“Shark finning has fueled massive population declines and irreversible disruption of our oceans. Finally we’ve come through with a tough approach to tackle this serious threat to our marine life,” Kerry said in a statement.

The bill, according to a summary:

•    “eliminates an enforcement loophole related to the transport of shark fins by prohibiting any vessel from having custody, control, or possession of shark fins without the corresponding carcass";
•    “strengthens enforcement by deleting the rebuttable presumption that any shark fins landed were taken, held or landed in violation of the law if the total weight of shark fins landed or found on board exceeds 5 percent of the total weight of shark carcasses”;
•    “specifies that all sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached”;
•    “amends the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act to allow the secretary of Commerce to identify and list nations that have fishing vessels that have not adopted a regulatory program for the conservation of sharks that is similar to the U.S.; and”
•    “promotes the conservation of sharks internationally and provides a more equal playing field for U.S. fishermen.”