WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Days before Discovery Channel's Shark Week, award-winning actor and longtime Oceana advocate Morgan Freeman joined Oceana and Members of Congress to announce the introduction of a new bill to ban the trade of shark fins in the United States. The bipartisan Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act of 2016 was introduced today by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Reps. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (I-MP) and Ed Royce (R-CA). While the act of shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, shark fins continue to be bought and sold throughout the United States.
“My fascination with science and nature was sparked by work with Discovery Science on ‘Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman,’ which inspired me to intensify my work to protect our planet’s inhabitants,” said Freeman. “Sharks are being killed for their fins, much like rhinos and elephants have been decimated due to the demand for their horns and tusks. While shark finning is banned in U.S. waters, we continue to buy, sell and trade shark fins throughout the country. By allowing the trade of shark fins within our borders, the U.S. continues to contribute to this global problem. The Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act would not only get the U.S. out of the shark fin trade business, but it would also reinforce the status of the United States as a leader in shark conservation.”
Oceana also released a new report today demonstrating why Congress needs to pass a federal ban on the buying and selling of shark fin products. The demand for shark fins is one of the greatest threats facing shark populations around the world. In fact, fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global market every year.
According to the new report, a nationwide ban on the trade of shark fins would reduce the international fin trade, improve enforcement of the current finning ban, and send a message to other countries that the United States recognizes shark finning as a cruel process that should not be allowed to continue. To access Oceana’s full report and video, please visit www.oceana.org/FinBanNow.
“Shark finning is cruel and wasteful and it’s putting some shark species at risk of extinction. The United States rightly decided to ban the trade of ivory and rhino horns—yet we still import shark fins, which can be the result of an equally brutal practice,” said Lora Snyder, campaign director at Oceana. “To protect sharks, we need to end the demand for shark fins. Today, the United States took an important step towards achieving this. We applaud the leadership of the bill’s supporters today in helping to end the shark fin trade in the United States.”
Key findings from the report include:
- More than 70 percent of the 14 most common shark species involved in the Hong Kong shark fin trade, the historic center of the global shark fin trade, are considered at high or very high risk of extinction.
- Five of the 11 countries that export fins to the United States have no shark finning bans in place, making it very likely that fins coming into the U.S. are from sharks that have been finned.
Shark watchers spend an estimated $314 million on shark ecotourism
every year, and researchers expect that to double to $780 million in
- According to a recent study, sharks are the top species U.S. scuba divers want to see, and they will pay $35 extra per dive to see a shark.
There are discrepancies in the estimates of the number of shark fins
that are actually entering and leaving the United States.
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), other countries reported exporting 1,012 metric tons of shark fins to the United States in 2007. However, that same year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) only reported 28.8 metric tons of shark fin imports.
- In 2011, NOAA reported 38 metric tons of shark fin exports from the United States, yet according to the FAO, other countries reported importing 295 metric tons of shark fins from the United States.
“Right now, it is impossible to know if a shark fin in the United States is a product of finning. A national fin ban would remove that uncertainty and shut down the U.S. as a market for shark fins. It would also reinforce the status of the United States as a global leader in shark conservation,” said Snyder. “There’s no place for shark fins in the United States.”
Oceana would like to thank Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Maria Cantwell and John McCain as well as Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Madeleine Bordallo, Blake Farenthold, Raul Gijalva, Jared Huffman, John Katko, Patrick Meehan and Mike Thompson for being original co-sponsors of this legislation.
For the full release, including quotes from members of Congress, please visit oceana.org/finbannow.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one third of the world’s wild fish catch. With over 100 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that one billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.oceana.org to learn more.