The Shark Conservation Act will bring the Pacific fisheries into line with the rest of the country’s fins-attached policy, and strengthen the U.S. position in international shark conservation efforts.
Shark Conservation Act
- H.R. 81, introduced by Rep. Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam, had the bipartisan support of 30 cosponsors and passed the House by voice vote with an amendment offered by Rep. Eni Faleomavaega, D-American Samoa, on March 2, 2009.
- S. 850, introduced by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., had the bipartisan support of 33 cosponsors.
- H.R. 81, with Senate amendments, passed the Senate by unanimous consent on December 20, 2010.
- Up to 73 million sharks are killed each year in targeted fisheries and as bycatch. Shark finning is a major cause of massive declines in shark populations around the world, since retaining only the fins allows fishing operations to kill many more sharks at a time (filling their onboard freezers with just the fins while dumping the bodies overboard).
- When sharks’ fins are cut off and their live bodies are thrown back into the water.
- As top predators, sharks play an important role in maintaining ecosystem balance. The killing of large numbers of sharks already appears to be affecting other marine species and commercial fisheries. When shark stocks are depleted, their natural prey proliferate and can have a devastating impact on the species they feed on – for example, fewer sharks mean more skates and rays, who in turn have taken a large bite out of scallop and other shellfish populations.
- A national fins-attached policy will provide for improved conservation and management of steeply declining shark populations. It is often impossible to identify a shark species solely by looking at its fins, so landing sharks with fins attached is crucial for tracking which species are caught.
- The Senate-passed bill includes an exemption for smooth dogfish sharks, which are typically caught along the East Coast primarily for their meat. The exemption will put the onus on that fishery to ensure that no fins from any other species are included in smooth dogfish landings.