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 Booker2020 Democrats defend climate priorities in MSNBC forum MSNBC Climate Change Forum draws 1.3M viewers in 8 pm timeslot Iowa Steak Fry to draw record crowds for Democrats 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 RyanDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas MORE (R-Wis.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Lawmakers say Zuckerberg has agreed to 'cooperate' with antitrust probe 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. FitzpatrickHouse Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Ensuring quality health care for those with intellectual disabilities and autism House Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad 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 RoyceMystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp House panel advances bill to protect elections from foreign interference MORE (R-Calif.).

Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump eyes narrowly focused response to Iran attacks Kavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Senate GOP pledges to oppose any efforts to 'pack' Supreme Court 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.”