Sustainability Environment

House bans shark fin trade, curbs illegal fishing  

The House passed the provisions as part of the annual defense authorization bill.
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House lawmakers on Thursday passed measures that would ban buying and selling shark fins in the United States and help the country combat illegal fishing as part of the annual defense spending bill. 

The National Defense Authorization Act, which passed Thursday in a bipartisan 350-80 vote, includes the “END Wildlife Trafficking Act” and the shark fin sale provision.   

The vice president of Oceana, an ocean advocacy nonprofit, called these changes an “important step” for ocean conservation.  

“This bill will finally remove the U.S. from the devastating shark fin trade once and for all … [and] will also help to fight illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing by giving the U.S. more tools to take action against countries that fail to address these devastating and destructive practices in their fleets,” Oceana’s Beth Lowell said.  

The Humane Society Legislative Fund said that the provisions “promise to spare millions of animals worldwide from persecution, suffering and death” and “set the stage for a stronger global response to criminal networks” that profit from trafficking worldwide.

The practice of shark finning — catching a shark, removing the fin and discarding the shark back into the ocean — is already illegal in the U.S., but lawmakers have long pushed to ban the shark fin trade overall in order to put pressure on the global market.  

The Biden administration has taken steps to curb illegal fishing in international waters as part of addressing labor issues in the industry. 

The defense authorization bill will head now to the upper chamber for another vote. If it clears the Senate, it will be sent to President Biden’s desk for his signature.