Just in time for Shark Week, Governor John Kitzhaber recently made it illegal to sell, trade, or possess shark fins in the State of Oregon. The bill, which passed the State House of Representatives and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, makes Oregon the third U.S. state to prohibit shark finning behind Hawaii and Washington.
A similar measure passed in the California State Assembly earlier this year, but must to be approved by the Senate before it can become law.
“With the global trade in shark fins pushing sharks toward extinction, it will take strong actions such as this to prevent us from making irreversible changes to our ocean ecosystems,” said Whit Sheard, Senior Advisor and Pacific Counsel for Oceana. “The bipartisan support for this bill once again demonstrates that support for healthy oceans is a non-partisan issue.”
Shark finning is brutal a process whereby sharks are caught, the fins are cut away from the body, and the carcass is thrown back into the sea. Without fins, sharks bleed to death, drown, or are eaten by other species. Used mostly to provide ingredients for the Asian delicacy, shark fin soup, in recent decades this practice has contributed to a 99 percent decline in some shark populations.
Although shark finning is already illegal in U.S., European, Canadian and Australian waters, it’s still common in international waters. Fins are imported to the U.S. from countries with less stringent protections, and because it’s not against the law to possess the fins in most states, this demand continues unabated.
However, scientists are starting to understand that eliminating sharks from ocean ecosystems can destabilize the ocean food web and even lead to declines in populations of other species, including commercially-caught fish and shellfish species lower in the food web.
via LA Times
Image Credit: Flickr - usfwspacific