The global movement against the shark fin trade gains momentum with Chile, the Bahamas and Fiji all introducing legislation this week that would reduce the trade.
Not only is the declining shark population potentially devastating to marine ecosystems, but also certain nations are realizing the economic value of sharks as a tourist draw. According to the Pew Environmental Group, tourism brings in USD$80 million annually in the Bahamas, with each reef shark estimated to be worth about USD$250,000.
In Chile, the National Congress passed legislation today that completely bans shark finning, requiring that every shark caught by fishermen be landed with their fins naturally attached.
In the Bahamas, the new legislation announced on Tuesday outright prohibits shark fishing in its territorial waters and also prohibits the sale, import, and export of shark products.
In Fiji, the Department of Fisheries and Forests announced today that the government is reviewing current fisheries management law in order to incorporate a ban of all products derived from any shark captured in Fiji waters, especially fins.
In the US, California’s ban (AB 376) next heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee on before heading to the Senate floor. The bill passed on the Assembly floor with a vote of 60-8. If passed, California will join Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and the US territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, where similar bans have been passed.
Up to 73 million sharks per year are slaughtered for their fins, the primary ingredient in the Asian delicacy, shark fin soup. Captured at sea and hauled on deck, the sharks are often still alive while their fins are sliced off. Because shark meat is not as valuable as shark fin, the maimed animals are usually tossed overboard to drown or bleed to death. The process is called shark finning, a wasteful and cruel practice.
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