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Conservation

Can America lead the world on banning the shark fin trade?

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 March, 2018, 4:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 March, 2018, 8:59pm

Your article on the drop in shark fin arrivals (“Hong Kong shark fin imports ‘halved since 2007’, thanks to tighter regulations and shipping bans”, March 8) details promising trends in the global shark fin trade, namely a decrease in imports due to an increased number of businesses publicly opposing the fin trade as well as increasing their enforcement efforts of said bans.

One of the greatest threats facing sharks is the demand for their fins. In fact, the fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global market every year.

Over 70 per cent of the 14 most common shark species involved in the Hong Kong shark fin trade, the historic centre of the global market for shark fin, are considered at high or very high risk of extinction.

The demand for fins drives the practice of shark finning and – although this brutal practice is illegal in US waters, the US still imports fins from countries that have no finning bans – thus, still indirectly supporting this practice.

But there is a growing global movement opposing the fin trade, as evidenced in the article above. And right now, one of the most promising actions is happening in the United States.

The US still imports fins from countries that have no finning bans [thus] indirectly supporting this practice

The US Congress has introduced the bipartisan Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act to ban the trade of fins nationally.

This bill would not only remove the US from the trade, but it would also improve enforcement of the current US finning ban, and reinforce the status of the US as a leader in shark conservation.

Currently, 12 American states, three territories, 40 airlines, 20 shipping companies and over 500 businesses have passed shark fin bans. Now, it’s time for the US to demonstrate its global leadership by passing a national ban.

To protect sharks globally, we need to end the demand for shark fins.

We urge the US to protect the thousands of jobs and​countless businesses that rely on healthy shark populations by banning the trade of shark fins.

Whitney Webber, campaign director, Oceana