Matt Rand, director of global shark conservation for the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement today in response to Chilean President Sebastián Piñera's signing of Chile's ban on shark finning. This new regulation requires that any fisherman who catches these animals must land them with their fins naturally attached, meaning that the whole body must be taken to port intact. The law was published today in the Diario Oficial.
“Through its new law to ban shark finning, Chile has become a leader in the conservation of some of the ocean's most important and imperiled species. Up to 73 million sharks are killed every year around the globe primarily for their fins, which are most often consumed in Asia in shark fin soup. This unsustainable trade is fueled by shark finning, the wasteful act of slicing off the fins and discarding the body at sea.
“Accompanying the ban is a pledge from the fisheries undersecretary, Pablo Galilea, to end the Chilean fleet's use of wire leaders in longline fishing gear, which will help to reduce the large number of sharks caught by fishermen seeking swordfish or tuna. While these valuable fish cannot chew through alternative gear, such as monofilament leaders, sharks can—and, when they do, they swim free.
“An estimated 53 species of sharks are found in Chilean waters. These two measures will help to keep that diversity in the sea and out of the fin market. We look forward to continuing our work with the Chilean government to safeguard threatened species and establish protected areas that are important for sharks and other marine life.”