By Shark Info
December 7, 2000, marks a milestone for shark protection: The finning of sharks is
now legally banned in all U.S. waters, especially in the Pacific regions and Hawaii.
Finning is a cruel and wasteful practice in which the sharks' fins are cut off, often while
the animals are still alive, and their unused torsos are simply tossed back into the
ocean. Since the fins are equivalent to only a minimum of the shark's body weight, this
means that 93 to 96% of the shark meat is thrown away and wasted. The main market
for shark fins is Asia where a bowl of shark fin soup can cost up to one hundred
dollars! Finning has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of sharks worldwide, ten
thousand alone in U.S. Pacific coastal waters.
Since sharks reproduce very slowly, such extreme fishing methods drastically affect
their populations. For this reason in 1993 the U.S. Department of Commerce already
put a stop to this practice in U.S. territorial waters in the Atlantic, the Caribbean and in
the Gulf of Mexico. Up until now only the Pacific regions have been excluded from this
ban where 10 years ago this practice was only of marginal importance. However, over
the past years finning increased tremendously in the Pacific and especially in
Hawaiian waters so that the amount of sharks killed in the Pacific rose by 2500% from
1991 to 1998! In 1998 it is estimated that approximately 60,000 blue sharks (Prionace glauca),
a preferred species of the high seas, were finned.
In our Brief International News we have already reported many times on this fight
against finning in U.S. waters. The bill (Shark Finning Prohibition Act, H.R. 5461) calls
for a ban on finning in all U.S. waters (200-mile zone) while also promoting
international cooperation in the fight against this practice. The bill prohibits both
finning as well as the general landing of ships with fins in ports unless the shark torsos
are also on board. This should prevent smaller fishing boats from continuing their
finning practices, since compared to fins, shark torsos have only a small market value
besides being heavy and taking up too much room on these small boats.
After the bill had been passed by the House of Representatives in November 2000,
Senators Kerry, Snowe and Hollings submitted the bill to the Senate who then passed
the legislation on December 7, 2000. It remains to be signed by the President before
going into effect.
May be published only by indicating the source: Shark Info / Shark Info