From a news release:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, announced today that he has introduced bipartisan legislation condemning the grisly practice of shark finning. Buchanan’s resolution, H. Res. 285, has been endorsed by the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Humane Society and 31 bipartisan members of Congress. Shark finning is the controversial practice of removing a shark’s fins, a delicacy in Asia, and discarding the live animal back into the ocean to either drown or be eaten alive by other fish. “The Shark fin trade promotes inhumane practices and is devastating shark populations and valuable fisheries worldwide,” said Buchanan, who serves on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade. "My resolution brings awareness to a cruel practice that, if not stopped, will have irreparable environmental and economic consequences.” Shark finning is the single greatest contributor to the decline in shark populations, accounting for 60 percent of shark mortality. One third of our ocean’s sharks are threatened with extinction. The journalScience recently published a study in which 11 shark species in the Atlantic declined by at least 87 percent since 1970. Some species of sharks in the Gulf of Mexico have seen population declines of well over 90 percent. While finning is illegal in the United States, it is widely practiced worldwide to satisfy a large Asian market. Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida reports that up to 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins. While shark fins only account for 5 percent of a shark’s body weight, they are the most valuable part of the shark – selling for $500 per kilogram. Finning is perpetuated by the world demand for shark fin soup, where a bowl typically sells for $120. Buchanan’s resolution calls for the United States to end the importation of shark fins from foreign fisheries that practice shark finning. The resolution also highlights the danger that shark finning poses to world shark populations, our oceans and to U.S. fisheries. As apex predators, sharks help maintain the balance of marine life populations. The collapse of shark populations have serious ecological and economic consequences. A study from the journal Sciencefound that when 11 shark species in the Atlantic became nearly extinct due to overharvesting, the ecosystem was thrown out of balance. With fewer sharks, the species they prey upon, like cownose rays, dramatically increased in numbers. As the cownose ray population grew out of control, the rays destroyed the population of North Carolina bay scallops. The scallop industry in North Carolina had been thriving for over 100 years, yet after the increase in rays, the scallop industry was virtually wiped out and the scallop harvest dropped to only 13% of its highest recorded point. Buchanan’s efforts are supported by nearly two dozen marine and wildlife conservation organizations including Mote Marine Laboratory located in the Congressman’s district. “Mote Marine Laboratory supports the conservation of sharks and the sustainable management of U.S. and foreign shark fisheries,” said Dr. Robert Hueter, Director of the National Center for Shark Research at Sarasota based Mote Marine Laboratory. “We condemn finning and over fishing of sharks and support Congressman Buchanan’s efforts to draw public attention to the need to address and end these detrimental practices.” “The Humane Society of the United States applauds Congressman Buchanan’s outstanding efforts and leadership in introducing a resolution calling for an end to this cruel practice and promoting a healthy future for our oceans,” said Michael Markarian, chief program and policy officer at the Humane Society. “Sharks are apex predators who play an essential role in marine ecosystems. The cruel and ecologically devastating practice of shark finning endangers their survival—and that of the species that rely on them.” “We truly appreciate the leadership displayed by Congressman Buchanan to protect sharks from the cruel and wasteful practice of finning,” said Susan Millward, Executive Director of the Animal Welfare Institute. “As top predators, sharks are key components of the marine ecosystem and with over 73 million killed for their fins yearly, they clearly need our protection.” With the passage of the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000, the United States banned finning in U.S. waters by U.S. registered vessels. To further strengthen the law and to close loopholes, President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act in 2011 to prohibit any boat to carry shark fins without the corresponding number and weight of carcasses. Organizations endorsing the “End All Shark Finning Resolution” include: Sierra Club; League of Conservation Voters; US Humane Society; Animal Welfare Institute; Monterey Bay Aquarium; Humane Society International; Oceana; International Animal Rescue; Ocean Geographic Society; Shark Research Institute; Shark Conservation Society; Animal Legal Defense Fund; Shark Attack Survivors; Shark Savers; Sharkprotect; Shark Whisperers; WildAid; British Divers Marine Life Rescue; Lobby for Animals; and SandyHook SeaLife Foundation.
Original co-sponsors to the “End All Shark Finning Resolution” include: Jared Huffman (D-CA); Sam Farr (D-CA); Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA); Alan Lowenthal (D-CA); Tony Cardenas (D-CA); Jackie Speier (D-CA); Julia Brownely (D-CA); Zoe Lofgren (D-CA); George Miller (D-CA); Scott Peters (D-CA); Lois Capps (D-CA); Michael Grimm (R-NY); Carolyn Maloney (D-NY); Jerrold Nadler (D-NY); Grace Meng (D-NY); Alcee Hastings (D-FL); Ander Crenshaw (R-FL); Bill Young (R-FL); Patrick Murphy (D-FL); Frederica Wilson (D-FL); Jeff Miller (R-FL); Kathy Castor (D-FL); Ted Deutch (D-FL); Jim Moran (D-VA); Betty McCollum (D-MN); Dina Titus (D-NV); Peter DeFazio (D-OR); David Cicilline (D-RI); Raul Grijalva (D-AZ); and Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam).