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 BookerBiden employs flurry of meetings to unite warring factions Biden says he will review executive actions after police reform talks fail 11 senators urge House to pass .5T package before infrastructure bill 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 RyanPaul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book Paul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms MORE (R-Wis.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyWoodward: Milley was 'setting in motion sensible precautions' with calls to China Thompson says he hopes Jan 6. committee can complete work by 'early spring' Juan Williams: Shame on the anti-mandate Republicans 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. FitzpatrickDemocratic leaders racing toward Monday infrastructure vote House GOP to whip against bipartisan infrastructure bill WHIP LIST: How House Democrats say they'll vote on infrastructure bill 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 RoyceBottom line Bottom line California was key factor in House GOP's 2020 success MORE (R-Calif.).

Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDemocrats draw red lines in spending fight What Republicans should demand in exchange for raising the debt ceiling Climate hawks pressure Biden to replace Fed chair 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.”