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 BookerHarris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign T.I., Charlamagne Tha God advocate for opportunity zones on Capitol Hill Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — CBO officials testify on pros and cons of 'Medicare for All' | Booker vows to form White House office on abortion rights | Measles outbreak spreads with cases now in half the country 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 RyanAmash storm hits Capitol Hill Debate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 MORE (R-Wis.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes No agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess Republican strategist says an Amash presidential bid wouldn't result in 'any real political gain' 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. FitzpatrickHere are the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats on the Equality Act House approves anti-LGBT discrimination Equality Act This week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination 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 RoyceK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Former GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lawmakers propose banning shark fin trade MORE (R-Calif.).

Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Lawmakers take EPA head to task for refusing to demand Pruitt repay travel expenses Dems request investigation of lobbyist-turned-EPA employee who met with former boss 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.”