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Lawmakers propose banning shark fin trade

Lawmakers propose banning shark fin trade
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A bipartisan group of dozens of House lawmakers introduced legislation on Wednesday that would make it illegal to buy or sell shark fins.

The bill, led by Del. Gregorio Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands) and Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulOvernight Defense: Pentagon prepping for Trump order to draw down in Afghanistan, Iraq | Questions swirl after DOD purge | 10th service member killed by COVID-19 Former VOA producer sues US global media agency over termination Record number of women to serve in the next Congress MORE (R-Texas), is meant to further crack down on shark finning, in which fishermen remove fins and release the rest of the animal into the ocean to die.

Finning is already illegal in U.S. waters, but the bill’s supporters say that stopping the trade of fins would cut down on finning elsewhere, squeezing the market.

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“The strong, bipartisan support for this legislation sends a clear message that we have to pay more attention to protecting the Earth’s oceans and the life within those oceans,” Sablan said in a statement.

“Banning the sale of shark fins is important, but just a small step towards giving the oceans the full respect they must have in federal law,” he added.

Sablan first introduced the legislation, known as the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act, in 2016, modeling it after a similar law in the Northern Mariana Islands. Then-Rep. Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceCalifornia was key factor in House GOP's 2020 success Top donor allegedly sold access to key politicians for millions in foreign cash: report Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year MORE (R-Calif.) was the lead Republican sponsor at the time, but he retired from Congress this month.

“It is long since time we leverage our economic might against shark-finning and work to counter the larger issue of animal poaching and the illicit trafficking of animal parts,” McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

Conservation groups cheered the new bill.

“This bipartisan legislation is a sensible, non-partisan way for the U.S. to lead in shark conservation,” Whitney Webber, campaign director for responsible fishing at Oceana, said in a statement.

“A national fin ban is something that both sides of the aisle can agree is good for our oceans, and good for the tourism jobs and businesses that depend on healthy shark populations.”

The legislation has historically faced opposition from the shark fishing and seafood industry, who say that they should be allowed to sell and buy fins from sharks that are responsibly caught and used for other purposes.

“Prohibiting the sale of shark fins from the well-managed and highly-regulated U.S. fishery is a net negative for global shark conservation,” said Shaun Gehan, an attorney representing the Sustainable Shark Alliance.

Gehan said his group favors competing legislation from Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP urges Trump not to tank defense bill over tech fight Pressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread MORE (R-Fla.), Rep. Daniel WebsterDaniel Alan WebsterWhy so gloomy, Democrats? You have a lot to celebrate No longer second fiddle Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones MORE (R-Fla.) and Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuHouse Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress Democrats to determine leaders after disappointing election Mark Cuban asks voters to 'reconsider' donating to Georgia run-off elections MORE (D-Calif.), which is meant to put pressure on foreign countries to ban shark finning.