Petition Closed
1,281
Supporters

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.

Letter to
U.S. Senator Honorable Senator Boxer
U.S. Congressman Honorable Congressman Waxman
Re: NOAA-NMFS-2012-0092 – Opposition to proposed federal provision to preempt state shark fin trade laws

Re: Opposition to proposed federal provision to preempt state shark fin trade laws (NOAA-NMFS-2012-0092)

The United States has taken steps to reduce the overfishing of sharks both domestically and internationally, which is commendable. The Shark Conservation Act of 2010 closed loopholes that allowed shark finning to continue, and should, if implemented as intended, be a step forward in U.S. shark conservation. However, NOAA recently proposed a new rule to implement the Act, if approved as written, could overturn state laws that are more restrictive than the federal law. I’m writing to urge you to ensure that this new rule does not threaten state shark fin trade laws.

Bans on shark fin trade in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Washington state, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands were enacted after considerable public input, in an effort to enhance existing U.S. shark protections. In most jurisdictions, these laws ban the possession, sale and trade of shark fins, thus preventing fins from finned or unsustainably caught sharks from being sold in their territory. Exemptions were made to meet the unique needs of each jurisdiction.

Implementing the provisions of the Shark Conservation Act should not be used to overturn state laws that are more protective than federal law. There are a growing number of state and territorial statutes that are designed to address the problem of finning by reducing the demand for shark fin products. These statutes address the market for sale of products made from shark fins, and do not attempt to regulate fishing practices or fisheries management. This is not a conflict of interest, and is well within the jurisdiction and authority of the States to regulate.

Thank you for your leadership on coastal and ocean issues. I strongly urge you to ensure that the Shark Conservation Act is implemented as intended, without undermining state conservation measures.


Bans on shark fin trade in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Washington state, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands were enacted after considerable public input, in an effort to enhance existing U.S. shark protections. In most jurisdictions, these laws ban the possession, sale and trade of shark fins, thus preventing fins from finned or unsustainably caught sharks from being sold in their territory. Exemptions were made to meet the unique needs of each jurisdiction.
Implementing the provisions of the Shark Conservation Act should not be used to overturn state laws that are more protective than federal law. There are a growing number of state and territorial statutes that are designed to address the problem of finning by reducing the demand for shark fin products. These statutes address the market for sale of products made from shark fins, and do not attempt to regulate fishing practices or fisheries management. This is not a conflict of interest, and is well within the jurisdiction and authority of the States to regulate.

Regulations by the states and territories to protect sharks are not in conflict with federal law. The U.S. government should implement the Shark Conservation Act as intended, without undermining state conservation measures.

I strongly urge you not to preempt and undermine shark fin bans of states and territories.