Actress Diane Lane urges lawmakers to ban shark fin trade

Actress Diane Lane urges lawmakers to ban shark fin trade
© Oceana/Franz Mahr

Actress Diane Lane and conservation advocacy group Oceana on Thursday hosted an event on Capitol Hill to encourage lawmakers to ban U.S. participation in the shark fin trade.

The trade is “something that needs to come to a graceful but quick end,” said Lane, who was sporting a silver shark necklace.

Lane is lobbying for the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act of 2017. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerPoll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle Booker: It would be ‘irresponsible’ not to consider running for president MORE (D-N.J.), outlaws buying, selling and transporting shark fins and imposes penalties on those who break the law, aiming to reduce the number of sharks killed in the fin trade.

Seventy-three million sharks are killed each year for “finning,” said Lane, using the term for the practice.

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The push also comes during "Shark Week," The Discovery Channel's annual weeklong programming event intended to improve education and conservation efforts for sharks.

Lane, a longtime activist for the ocean, said she spoke with lawmakers on Wednesday, including Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP super PAC drops .5 million on Nevada ad campaign Blue wave poses governing risks for Dems Dems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests MORE (R-Wis.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Midterms to shake up top posts on House finance panel The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil MORE (R-Calif.), and is hosting more meetings today on ending shark finning.

“I had a marvelous day,” Lane told The Hill. “It’s wonderful to have unifying legislation that people can support, especially during Shark Week."

"Sharks are in trouble,” she continued. “I managed to have a moment with Speaker Ryan and he was kind of impressed with the number of sharks that perish every year with this being allowed to continue and how it is not sustainable."

“As you all know, facts matter, and science matters, and this isn’t playing around,” Lane added.

Lawmakers voiced optimism about moving the bill.

“We need to put this bill on the floor,” said Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickDems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests Congress prepares to punt biggest political battles until after midterms Preventing violence isn’t partisan: Time to reauthorize Violence Against Women Act MORE (R-Pa.) at the event. “We’re going to push hard for it.”

The “health of the oceans is dependent on us doing something to stop the slaughter,” added Rep. Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceOvernight Defense: Latest on Korea talks | Trump says summit results 'very exciting!' | Congress to get Space Force plan in February | Trump asked CIA about silent bombs Poll: House GOP candidate leads in California swing district Overnight Defense: Congress reaches deal preventing shutdown | Pentagon poised to be funded on time for first time in years | House GOP rejects effort to get Putin summit documents MORE (R-Calif.).

Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDem vows to probe 'why the FBI stood down' on Kavanaugh Senate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh Senate Dems sue Archives to try to force release of Kavanaugh documents MORE (D-R.I.) is a longtime supporter of shark conservation efforts and said there was wide support.

“It’s not just the big states like Texas, New York and California. It’s the small but powerful state of Rhode Island,” he said.

Whitehouse also joked about the bipartisan support for the bill highlighting Royce’s efforts on animal conservation.

“I know that Republicans aren’t supposed to like Democrats and for sure, members of the House are not supposed to senators, but he has been a terrific partner,” he said.

At the event, Lane also touted the economic value of shark tourism, which brings $221 million a year to Florida alone.

“I’m grateful that people are experiencing the majesty of this species firsthand,” she said.

And she said that ocean conservation should be seen as a global effort.

“It's one huge body of water that we share on the planet,” she said. “I think we need to do our part as leaders in the U.S. as far as setting the example.”