BACKGROUND: An estimated 73 million sharks are slaughtered for their fins every year. In this cruel and wasteful practice, a sharks fins are hacked off and the mutilated animal, often still alive, is tossed back into the sea to die an agonizing death. Sharks play a vital role in maintaining the health of the marine ecosystem. Their fins are used only in a high-priced soup, and provide no nutritional value the soup is merely a status symbol. The Shark Conservation Act of 2010 (SCA) (H.R. 81, S. 850) was passed by the 111th United States Congress and outlawed finning in USA waters, however it contained a significant loophole; shark fins are still imported and exported and thus contribute to the trade.
OBJECTIVE: The Shark Research Institute has been committed to ending the shark fin trade throughout the USA since 2009. The trade is now banned in 11 US states and 3 territories. We continue to work with other conservation organizations throughout the USA in support of legislation of a federal legislation to end the sharkfin trade (i.e. ban the sale, trade and possession of shark fins) throughout the entire USA.
The US states of Washington, Oregon and California bordering the Pacific Ocean have banned the sharkfin trade, as has Texas and the focus is now on the US states bordering the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean which remain open to the sharkfin trade.
IMPLEMENTATION: Letters to legislators signed by conservation organizations, aquariums, surfing and dive clubs, schools and constituents in each state targeted urging support of state-wide closure of the shark fin trade. In addition to heavy use of social media, and face-to-face meetings with legislators providing them with peer-reviewed papers in support of our goal, we also designed and have collected thousands of 4" x 5" memos with our Ban the Sharkfin Trade logo, each memo signed by an individual with their personal note to a legislator, and folded in half. Unlike petitions that could be tossed in the trash or easily shredded, it takes considerable effort to dispose of the memos and many comments, especially those of children, are very direct. Presenting boxes of the memos from his/her constituents to a legislator has proven to be effective.
Several state bills to ban the sharkfin trade are now pending. Last year a federal bill to end the shark fin trade failed to pass and this year another has been introduced: S.793 - Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act of 2017. This effort has been ongoing for eight years and will continue until such time as the trade is banned in every US state or is superseded by federal law banning the trade throughout the USA.
By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation
Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want
Type of commitment
- Strengthening ocean governance, for example through the development of a national ocean policy or regional ocean policy