US Senate Passes Shark Protection Bill
The United States Senate passed a landmark shark conservation bill aimed at closing loopholes that allowed sharks to be slaughtered just for their fins.
From now on, fishing boats that catch sharks must land the animals with their fins still attached and non-fishing boats may not transport fins without the rest of the shark. The barbaric practice of chopping off shark fins and then dumping the animals’ carcasses into the ocean, which had already been banned in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, is now illegal in the Pacific Ocean as well.
Each year, tens of millions of sharks are slaughtered solely for their fins. Shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in Asia and the market for the expensive dish has dramatically expanded along with Asia’s wealth.
“Shark finning has fueled massive population declines and irreversible disruption of our oceans,” said Senator John Kerry (D-MA), the bill’s author. “Finally we’ve come through with a tough approach to tackle this serious threat to our marine life.”
Kerry is right. Sharks are apex predators facing a very real danger of worldwide extinction. Such an event would have unknown but potentially serious consequences on species all the way up and down the food chain, including on human beings. The 2007 film Sharkwater offers an excellent overview of the crisis facing our planet’s shark population due to overfishing.
The bill now heads to the House of Representatives, which may vote as soon as tomorrow.