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WildAid Applauds California on Eve of Shark Fin Ban

Urges federal government not to overturn state bans

As of midnight tonight the shark fin trade will be illegal in California, a leading market for the product in America. California will join Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, and Washington, as well as Guam, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands, that have passed similar laws to protect sharks. However, these bans are in jeopardy due to a proposed clause to the federal Shark Conservation Act of 2010.

“People around the world look to California for environmental leadership,” said WildAid’s Executive Director Peter Knights. “The shark fin ban sends a message, which has undoubtedly led to the declining markets in Asia, specifically China and Hong Kong. There is a growing distaste for shark fin soup as people understand the impact of this trade on sharks.”

The education of the consumer base is a process that involves large-scale marketing campaigns, a tool that WildAid used in California and is continuing to use in Asia. The organization’s public service announcements feature former NBA star and Chinese icon Yao Ming (http://youtu.be/mJG7RaLX-DM and http://youtu.be/G7oaTCBuI2g).

However, as California’s ban takes effect, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) threatens to overturn this and other state sanctioned bans on the shark fin trade. In a proposed clause to the implementation of the Shark Conservation Act of 2010, NMFS takes issue with the effect the state bans have on shipping shark derived products from federal shark fisheries:

From “Section 600.1201 Relation to other laws”(d) State and territorial statutes that address shark fins are preempted if they are inconsistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act as amended by the Shark Conservation Act of 2010, regulations under this part, and applicable federal fishery management plans and regulations.

“We supported the passage of the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 and support measures to implement this law,” said Knights in his comment to the proposed clause. “However,” Knights now adds, “recent studies have shown that just finning bans do not reduce shark fishing and therefore the pressure on shark populations. This language from NMFS would reverse recent gains to protect sharks.” 

WildAid urges shark advocates to submit comments by the July 31st deadline to prevent the state bans from being overturned. Comments can be submitted via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.