U.S. House of Representatives adopts landmark Shark Conservation Act

Proposals to strengthen U.S. shark finning ban should serve as model for Europe

U.S. House of Representatives adopts landmark Shark Conservation Act

The Shark Alliance is congratulating the United States House of Representatives for yesterday’s passage of the “Shark Conservation Act of 2008”, a bill aimed at combating shark “finning” (cutting off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea).   The bill would strengthen the U.S. finning ban by prohibiting the removal of shark fins at sea, closing enforcement loopholes, encouraging other countries to adopt shark conservation programs, and establishing a process to ultimately allow for sanctions against countries that do not.  The strategy of prohibiting shark fin removal at sea is one that has received substantial support as a means to improve the EU finning ban, arguably the world’s weakest.

"By requiring that sharks be landed with their fins attached, the Shark Conservation Act would vastly improve enforcement of the U.S. finning ban and facilitate collection of species-specific data," said Sonja Fordham, Policy Director for Shark Alliance and Shark Conservation Program Director for member group Ocean Conservancy. "This straight-forward strategy is by far the best method for ensuring an end to the wasteful practice of finning and should serve as a model for the EU as it works to improve its finning ban through the development of a Community Plan of Action for Sharks."

In addition to ending guess work about whether sharks were finned, the “fins-attached” strategy improves officials’ ability to determine the species of sharks retained in fisheries, information that is essential for assessing populations and enforcing species-specific protections.  A prohibition on the removal of shark fins at sea for U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico fisheries was recently finalized and will take effect July 24, 2008.  A complicated fin-to-carcass weight ratio remains in place in the U.S. Pacific, all of the EU, and most international waters.  The EU fin-to-carcass ratio is the highest in the world.  

For more information or to arrange a media interview:

Sophie Hulme, +44 7973 712869
Email: sophie@communicationsinc.co.uk