Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) recently led a bipartisan congressional letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration urging the agency to revise a proposed rule that could undermine state bans on buying or selling shark fins. Huffman’s letter was cosigned by 61 members of congress, and is supported by 18 prominent and national conservation organizations, including Oceana and the Humane Society of the United States.
Shark finning is a major contributor to the accelerating decline in global shark populations. Experts estimate that between 26 and 73 million sharks are killed every year to supply the global demand for shark fins. As a state legislator, Huffman was the author of a landmark bill that bans the sale, trade, and possession of shark fins in California, one of the state and territorial laws that would be undermined by the proposed federal rule.
"Shark populations around the world are in serious decline, and this is no time to undermine the progress that California and other states are making in preventing the destructive practice of shark finning," congressman Huffman said. "The practice of cutting the fins off of living sharks and dumping them back in the ocean is not only cruel, but unsustainable and incredibly wasteful."
"Congress put an end to shark finning in U.S. waters. And now states are trying to do their part to shut down the shark fin trade, which drives the overexploitation of sharks worldwide," said Beth Lowell, campaign director, Oceana. "Once again, congress is standing up to protect sharks by urging the National Marine Fisheries Service to withdraw a problematic rule on the state fin trade bans. The representatives signed on to this letter know that sharks belong swimming in our oceans, not chopped up in our soup."
"To their credit, more than a half dozen major coastal states have enacted laws to crack down on the cruel and unnecessary practice of shark finning," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "These laws represent policy-making at its best, and the Obama Administration should revise its rulemaking that could preempt these laws and turn back the clock on shark finning."
Organizations endorsing this letter include: Oceana, Shark Savers, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters (LCV), National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Humane Society International, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education (COARE), Monterey Bay Aquarium, National Aquarium, Animal Welfare Institute, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Marine Conservation Institute, WildAid, and EarthJustice.