Kerry Introduces Legislation to End Shark Fin Trade
As part of his efforts to commemorate Earth Day, Sen. John Kerry today introduced legislation aimed at reducing shark finning and preserving marine ecosystems. The Shark Conservation Act of 2009 strengthens current regulations to ensure sharks cannot be transported with their fins detached.
"Shark finning fueled by the foreign fin trade has led to serious population decline and disruption of our waters," said Sen. Kerry. "We need much stronger solutions to end this illicit trade and current protections haven't gotten the job done. We need to get serious."
In the face of increasing exploitative shark finning practices, scalloped hammerhead, white, and thresher sharks have each declined an estimated 75 percent in the past 15 years. Sen. Kerry's bill strengthens the provisions of the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 by closing a loophole for shark fin transport and strengthening enforcement measures to ensure sharks are transported with their fins attached.
The Shark Conservation Act of 2009:
* eliminates an enforcement loophole related to the transport of shark fins by prohibiting any vessel from having custody, control, or possession of shark fins without the corresponding carcass;
* strengthens enforcement by deleting the rebuttable presumption that any shark fins landed were taken, held, or landed in violation of the law if the total weight of shark fins landed or found on board exceeds five percent of the total weight of shark carcasses;
* specifies that all sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached;
* amends the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act to allow the Secretary of Commerce to identify and list nations that have fishing vessels that have not adopted a regulatory program for the conservation of sharks that is similar to the U.S.; and
* promotes the conservation of sharks internationally and provides a more equal playing field for U.S. fishermen.