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Schatz Provision To Protect Sharks From Brutal Finning Practice, Killings Passes Senate

Schatz Helped Introduce, Pass Bill Which Will Stop The Cruel Practice Of Killing Sharks For Their Fins

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the United States Innovation and Competition Act, major bipartisan legislation that enhances American global competitiveness. The bill includes a provision cosponsored by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), which would ban the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States and protect sharks from finning, the brutal practice of slicing fins off of live sharks and throwing the remainder of the animal back into ocean to drown, starve, or die a slow death. Schatz led the effort to include the provision when the bill passed out of the Commerce Committee.

“Finning is cruel, and it’s crushing the global shark population, which is critical to our oceans and marine ecosystem,” said Senator Schatz. “I’m glad we were able to move this bill one step closer to becoming law so that we can protect more sharks from this brutal practice.”

Specifically, the provision will:

  • Remove the U.S. contribution of shark fins to the global market;
  • Allow for stronger enforcement of illegal shark fin trade in the United States; and
  • Put the U.S. in a stronger position to advocate internationally for abolishing the fin trade in other countries.

Although the United States has banned the practice of shark finning aboard vessels in U.S.-controlled waters, there is no federal ban on the removal and sale of shark fins from a whole shark that has been caught and landed legally under U.S. law. That makes enforcing U.S. law difficult because once a shark fin is detached from the body, it is almost impossible to determine whether the shark was legally caught or the fin lawfully removed. Determination of species is also difficult, which is problematic given that some shark species are threatened with extinction.

The bill now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.