Sharks across the planet face an urgent crisis of rapid population decline due to overfishing as bycatch in commercial fisheries as well as direct exploitation for their meat, fins, liver oil for squalene, and cartilage for collagen.
Shark fin consumption has been a controversial subject around the globe for decades and the U.S. is no exception. It is estimated that about 100 million sharks are killed each year globally, with up to 73 million killed for their fins. Finning has been illegal in U.S. waters since 2000 and 12 states now have bans on the sale of shark fins, but nationwide protection is lacking. The U.S. is a major transit hub for international shark fin shipments, with Latin America, one of the most significant shark fin-producing regions, transporting shark fins through U.S. ports en route to Asia. Over the past five years, at least six bills relating to the country’s shark fin trade have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Five of these bills died before becoming law.
But the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act could end this losing streak with its bipartisan support and a long history of attention from Congress.
The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, which would ban the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States, did not make it through Congress on its first two attempts, but advocates and congressional sponsors didn’t give up. The bill was reintroduced on Apr 22, 2021, by Congressmen Michael McCaul (TX-10) and Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (MP-AL). The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (previously S. 1106) was then added to S. 1260, the Endless Frontiers Act. In a fortunate turn of events, the Endless Frontiers Act was added to the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act which passed the Senate on June 8th. You can find the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act in Sec. 2518.
Now the Act needs to be approved by the House of Representatives. It is important that we not only ask for passage of this Act, but that the provisions for the fin import/export are kept intact. We are hoping this act will be reviewed by the House in the coming month.
In 2019, WildAid Founder Peter Knights told National Geographic that a U.S. ban on sales of shark fin would be a significant step forward because it would send the message that selling and consuming shark fin is not acceptable. The sale of shark fin, he said, “continues to increase pressure on sharks worldwide.”
You can help protect sharks! To make your voice heard, please contact your Congressional Representatives via phone and ask them to “Please support the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, H.R. 2811, to stop the trade of shark fins in the United States,” and ask that the provisions for the fin import/export are kept intact. Or, send them an email. To make it easier we have prepared sample text you can use to copy and personalize. Find the name, phone numbers, and address of your Representatives here.
WildAid has campaigned to reduce shark fin consumption in the regions of the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Thailand, and to secure further restrictions to the global shark fin trade for two decades. Since 2011, there has been an estimated 50-70% decrease in shark fin consumption in China. In October 2016, China’s CITES Management Authority announced that shark fin consumption in China had fallen by more than 80%. In 2016, a WildAid survey found that 93% of respondents in China had not consumed shark fin in the previous 6 years. Nearly 80% had seen WildAid campaign messages, and 98.8% agreed that the messages successfully raised awareness about shark protection and the need to reject shark fin consumption.
In Thailand, WildAid launched its “Celebrate with No Shark Fin” campaign in 2018 to address the 60% of urban Thai residents who reported their future intent to consume shark fin. With the potential for Thailand to become a significant market for shark fin, WildAid is pushing for a new social norm where Thais consider shark fin to be socially unacceptable and establish a new standard where sharks are permanently off the menu at restaurants and banquets. Our goal is to reduce consumption and intent by 35% by the end of 2022 and enable the passage of legislative and regulatory measures to reduce use of shark fin.
In June 2020, whale sharks received new legal protection in Taiwan, with anyone found guilty of disturbing or capturing the animals subject to up to five years in prison and a significant fine. We continue our two-decade-long program to advocate for stronger regulations and lead public awareness campaigns to help Taiwan and Southeast Asia achieve a thriving marine life that contributes to healthy oceans and sustainable fisheries.
Two options to make your voice heard:
1. Copy and paste this text into an email:
The shark fin trade accounts for approximately 73 million shark deaths a year and plays a major role in the steep decline of shark species worldwide, some populations of which have dropped by as much as 90% in recent decades. The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act will help address these problems by prohibiting the commercial trade of shark fins and products containing shark fins. Please support the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, H.R. 2811, to stop the trade of shark fins in the United States and make the US a leader in shark conservation.
The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act will prohibit commercial trade of shark fins and products containing shark fins in the US. [Tag your representative’s handle here] please support the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, H.R. 2811, and make the US a leader in shark conservation. #FinBanNow
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WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $308 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.
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