IMPORTANT NOTE: There are other petitions out there about the same issue, but I believe this is the only one that contains all of the correct info and the correct people. There must be an official public comment submission using the correct government form, otherwise the public comment can legally be "not counted". Also, some petitions are lacking the correct officials to send it to. This one addresses all of these items so please read the instructions carefully!
The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has added language to a proposed rule, that overturns current and future U.S. State and Territory authority.
Over the last few years, individual States recognized the economic and environmental impacts of shark-finning and 10 of them passed State laws on the shark fin trade. Dozens of other states are currently looking at similar laws.
With an epidemic proportion environmental crisis occurring with the shark fin trade, in January 2011 President Obama signed into law the Shark Conservation Act (SCA) of 2010.This act addresses the practice of shark-finning.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is the U.S. Federal agency responsible for managing U.S. fisheries under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
In May, NMFS proposed a rule to implement the SCA. In this rule is added language that essentially overturns all current State laws on the shark fin trade and overrides any future laws.
The added language would overturn current State and Territory laws, effectively allowing the voice of States and their citizens to mean nothing and reverse the positive change that has been occurring through current laws.
It is unclear as to why this language has been included and further distressing is they have put the deadline for public comment on the proposed rule less than 30 days away.
IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED:
Please take a moment and let NMFS know you demand the language be removed. As a citizen of a State, you expect your vote on State laws to mean something. It is acceptable to add wording that augments or enhances State laws, but it is unacceptable to remove authority from them.
There are 2 ways to act and BOTH MUST BE DONE BY JULY 8, 2013:
1) Sign this petition and pass it on.
2) Go to the official Government comment submission form and fill it out. Instructions are below…
Go to the comment submission form here, fill out the needed info, and copy and paste the comments below into the form: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=NOAA-NMFS-2012-0092-0031
- NMFS should NOT include text in the proposed rule to implement the Shark Conservation Act that would preempt the State and Territory shark fin laws.
- States and Territories have the right to pass laws to prohibit the shark fin trade within their borders. In response to a 2012 challenge to California’s shark fin law, the US District Court, Northern District of California, confirmed that the State’s shark fin law was not preempted by federal law.
- Requiring States and Territories to allow the shark fin trade only for fins from sharks caught in US federal waters would 1) likely be illegal as it would violate international trade laws by creating unfair trade barriers; and 2) create enormous burdens on State law enforcement agencies, which do not have the capacity to track the chain of custody for every shark fin.
- The purpose of the Shark Conservation Act was “to adopt shark conservation measures, including measures to prohibit removal of any of the fins of a shark (including the tail) and discarding the carcass of the shark at sea”. It does not include language to prevent States from banning the sale of shark fins. In fact, US Representative, Madeleine Bordallo, who introduced the SCA bill in 2009, and two fellow Representatives, stated in their letter to NMFS, “We are concerned that the preemption provision in the NMFS’ draft rule would take away a much-needed tool that States and Territories use to protect and recover dwindling shark populations”.
- State and Territory shark fin trade laws do not conflict with the Shark Conservation Act, but rather complement this federal law and facilitate enforcement. NMFS is going beyond the scope of implementing the Shark Conservation Act by attempting to interfere with these laws.
- State and Territory shark fin trade laws are not fishery laws, and do not conflict with fishing in Federal waters. These laws address shark fin demand and trade within the State or Territory, and in some cases include fishery measures that pertain only to that State or Territory's waters.
- State and Territory shark fin trade laws were passed through democratic legislative process with overwhelming bi-partisan and public support. Each law incorporated extensive feedback from the public and includes provisions that reflect the unique needs of each state or territory and its citizens. A Federal agency should not be allowed to circumvent the democratic process and the will of the People, by simply writing a rule.
*****Thanks go to Shark Savers for their work on this issue. You can see more here: https://www.sharksavers.org/en/blogs-news/shark-savers-blog/action-alert-stop-the-us-federal-government-from-interfering-with-state-shark-fin-bans/ *****