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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      House Committee on Natural Resources
      Water, Power and Oceans
    IntroducedMarch 9th, 2017

What is it?

This bill would make it illegal to possess, trade, distribute, sell, or purchase shark fins in the U.S. and also prohibit their import or export. It would also establish penalties for shark finning under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Under current law, shark finning — the practice of cutting off the fins of a shark to sell them as food — is illegal in U.S. waters and has been since 2000, though buying, selling, or possessing shark fins is allowed. After the fins are removed, oftentimes the shark is thrown back into the sea where it will drown, bleed to death, or be eaten by other ocean creatures.

There would be an exemption for people who have a shark fin that was obtained legally under a state, territorial, or federal license as long as the fin is taken from the shark to be:

  • Destroyed or discarded;

  • Retained by the license holder and not sold;

  • Used — but not sold — for subsistence purposes in compliance with state or territorial law;

  • Used solely for display or research purposes by a museum, college, university, or other person granted a permit to conduct scientific research.

Impact

Sharks; people who buy or sell shark fins; and the federal government.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: During the last Congress, actor Morgan Freeman joined lawmakers and an advocacy group known as Oceana at a press conference announcing the introduction of this bill's predecessor, and pushed for the legislation’s passage:

“Sharks are being killed for their fins, much like rhinos and elephants have been decimated due to the demand for their horns and tusks. While shark finning is banned in U.S. waters, we continue to buy, sell and trade shark fins throughout the country. By allowing the trade of shark fins within our borders, the U.S. continues to contribute to this global problem.”

A representative of the Sustainable Shark Alliance, a coalition of shark fishermen and seafood dealers advocating for sustainable U.S. shark fisheries, expressed opposition to this bill in that it'd effectively punish American shark fishermen who abide by the law while doing nothing about shark finning in other countries:

"The bill will, as a practical matter, end domestic commercial shark fishing because, on average, fins account for half the value of the landed catch. Absent that income, fishermen would lose money catching and landing these fish. The ban also runs counter to the main principle behind this nation's fisheries law: to maximize the economic return from sustainable use of our maritime resources. In short, the legislation harms American fishing families and coastal communities merely to send a message about unsustainable and cruel fishing practices abroad."

This legislation has 239 bipartisan cosponsors in the House, including 163 Democrats and 76 Republicans.


Of Note: According to Oceana as many 73 million sharks have their fins removed in a given year, and several species that are frequent targets are considered to be vulnerable or endangered populations. Much of the demand for shark fins is driven by the consumption of shark fin soup, which is considered a delicacy in some Asian cultures.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Flickr user nicwn)

AKA

Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2017

Official Title

To prohibit the sale of shark fins, and for other purposes.

    Shark finning is a barbaric and wasteful practice. Some shark species have been decimated because of it, and possibly permanently affected. We should not be participating in this or encouraging this trade in any way.
    Like (278)
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    Prohibition always has unintended consequences.
    Like (31)
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    Of course we should. I'm shocked to hear that we don't already have a ban on this product, considering the brutal harvesting methods used on these animals.
    Like (155)
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    I'm shocked that our country still allows the highly destructive and hideously cruel practice of shark finning. It needs to be completely banned right now.
    Like (115)
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    Sharks are an important part of the oceans ecosystem and must be protected to keep the balance.
    Like (79)
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    Good god, yes. Barbaric. Unnecessary. Stop.
    Like (61)
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    Sharks are beautiful creatures, and in all reality, rarely attack to kill humans. They actually are deciding whether or not you're what they eat. Trading of animal parts is wrong, no mater the species.
    Like (53)
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    I'm shocked that this is still imported. Like any eco system the top predators are important for the security of the entire system. We must protect them as much as other wildlife.
    Like (35)
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    Right now it is impossible to know if a shark fin in the United States is a product of finning. A national fin ban would remove that uncertainty and shut down the U.S. as a market for shark fins. It would also reinforce the status of the United States as a global leader in shark conservation.
    Like (29)
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    Is there no limit to how savage and cruel people are capable of being in the quest for the almighty dollar? Not only are sharks living breathing amazing creatures they are also a vital part of the marine ecosystem. In the interest of the environment and common decency this heinous practice must be stopped now. Please support this bill.
    Like (22)
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    Stop the cruel massacre of these creatures.
    Like (21)
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    Killing sharks just for their fins is a waste of good meat.
    Like (18)
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    This bill should go even further, but it is a good next step in shark conservation. That it has bipartisan support, which is such a rare commodity these days, is a big plus.
    Like (14)
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    Even if the trade moves to the black market, this still makes the practice more difficult. Why should we have any laws at all if the argument against them is that people will just do it anyway?
    Like (14)
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    Let's leave the fins where they belong, on the shark.
    Like (14)
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    Shark Finning is a cruel and inhumane practice. There needs to be a strict enforcement of protection of shark population and the prohibition of the practice of capturing sharks and cutting off their fins. Live and let live.
    Like (14)
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    While shark fin is deplorable, it is not the government's place to regulate morality.
    Like (13)
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    It is wasteful and pointless.
    Like (13)
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    This is a cruel and unnecessary practice. This should be banned and discouraged in any way possible. We need to be more humane and take better care of our resources and the creatures that we share our planet with.
    Like (11)
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    There is no need for Americans to possess shark fins especially if it is illegal to obtain them. Too bad this will just continue rapidly in Asian markets.
    Like (10)
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