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 McCaulFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Democrats to offer resolution demanding Trump reverse Syria decision House Foreign Affairs leaders to introduce sanctions bill against Turkey 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 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.) 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 RubioFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Five ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble Rubio criticizes Warren response on same-sex marriage opposition as condescending MORE (R-Fla.), Rep. Daniel WebsterDaniel Alan WebsterCongress can't even study gun violence unless it changes the law Judd Gregg: Pelosi's olive branch...sort of Lawmakers propose banning shark fin trade MORE (R-Fla.) and Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuLieu accuses Trump of asking Ukraine to 'manufacture dirt' on Biden Lieu weighs in on impeachment inquiry Lieu calls for change to House rules, saying administration 'brought a machete to a knife fight' MORE (D-Calif.), which is meant to put pressure on foreign countries to ban shark finning.