- Bobby Yip/Reuters
With declining populations of sharks worldwide, there have been multiple bans on the sale of shark fins in the United States. However, some species are still allowed to be sold in certain states. It is also almost impossible to know if a shark was caught legally or not, Sea Shepherd says, because many markets often lie about the species they have caught and where they caught them.
Today, 5 United States senators are introducing the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act of 2016.
Cory Booker (D, NJ), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John McCain (R-AZ), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) hope to eliminate the selling of shark fins in every state in the nation. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) helped with the original sponsoring of the bill as well. There are currently 11 states (TX, DE, HI, IL, MA, MD, NY, OR, RI, CA, WA) as well as the territories of American Somoa, Guam, and the North Mariana Islands that have implemented a ban.
Sharks are one of the ocean’s apex predators, meaning they control the rest of the food chain and countless interactions in the blue abyss. They regulate populations, as well as provide economic value for humans, like tourist boating trips.
“Every year, it is estimated that over 70 million sharks end up in the global shark fin trade, and fining is pushing some species of sharks to the brink of extinction,” Senator Booker said. “With this bipartisan measure, America can become a global leader by shutting down the domestic market for shark fins. Sharks play a pivotal role in marine ecosystems, and we must do more to protect them.”
If the act is approved, it will remove the United States contribution of shark fins to the global market, lowering demand and hopefully creating a lull in finning. It will also allow for stronger enforcement of the “no finning” ban in the United States and put the country in a stronger position to advocate internationally for abolishing the fin trade in other countries.
Sharks may seem like a terror thanks to exploding negative social perception of the animal since the advent of cinema, but they are a vital part of the world’s oceans that need to be saved. The successful implementation of this act will benefit other animals as well as human interest.