Is the United States a world leader in shark conservation? You may have thought so, but it recently proposed to backtrack on progress achieved over the past several years. The federal government is proposing a rule that, if approved as is, has the potential to overturn the shark protections passed by California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Washington state, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
California has been a significant market for shark fin in the past, which was the catalyst for enactment of AB 376, state legislation that prohibits the possession, sale, and distribution of detached shark fins after the point of landing in California. This legislation became effective in 2013, and it is critical that it is upheld to help reduce the US market for shark fin.
NOAA’s proposed measure puts this hard-fought legislation at risk, as it seeks to overturn laws prohibiting shark fin trade in favor of more traditional fisheries management measures, which could open the door again to shark finning, an inhumane practice that has led to major declines in global shark populations. Fisheries management practices are important for shark protection in US waters, yet banning the trade of shark in is a critical piece of the shark conservation puzzle that should not conflict with these measures.
Please urge the US government to implement the Shark Conservation Act as intended, without undermining state conservation measures.