U.S. Passes Shark Conservation Act, But Loopholes Remain
Despite opposition from Republicans, U.S. government passed the Shark Conservation Act this week, prohibiting the practice of finning for almost all species of sharks.
The Washington post reports that “the measure – which the Senate passed Monday and the House passed Tuesday morning – requires any vessel to land sharks with their fins attached, and prevents non-fishing vessels from transporting fins without their carcasses.”
The legislation also provides a framework for Federal officials to work with international trading partners that don’t have similar shark protections in place.
“Sharks are in serious trouble,” Matt Rand, director of the Pew Environment Group’s Global Shark Conservation Campaign said in a statement on Monday. “An estimated 73 million are killed every year primarily to support the global shark fin trade.
“The Senate has acted decisively today to help protect sharks, the predators at the top of the global marine food chain,” Rand continued. “The Shark Conservation Act would once and for all end the practice of shark finning in U.S. waters and give the United States the credibility to persuade other nations and international fishery managers to follow suit.”
Unfortunately, some of the modifications have left loopholes that mean some shark species could still be targeted for finning.
“Fishermen can still remove the fins of smooth dogfish [sharks] at sea (and can now do so with a much higher fin:body weight ratio than before). This was arguably was what holding up the bill in the first place (that it would cause problems for what is arguably the first sustainable elasmobranch fishery in the world).
“In brief, the Senate has decided that smooth dog fishermen are allowed to remove fins at sea as long as the weight of the fins landed isn’t more than 12% of the weight of the rest of the shark.”
Despite this loophole, the long-overdue legislation has the potential to protect the vast majority of shark species, 30 percent of which are threatened with extinction.
Image Credit: Flickr - usfwspacific