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house Bill H.R. 737

Does the U.S. Need to Stop the Domestic Shark Fin Trade?

Argument in favor

Shark finning is a barbaric practice and the U.S. needs to do what it can to stop it by making the sale or purchase of shark fins illegal.

jimK's Opinion
···
07/28/2019
Our forebears viewed the planet as ‘infinite’ and killing this or that or dumping this or that did not effect the ‘infinite’ planet. Well, there is just too many of us people to accept that view anymore. The planet is finite and we people are effecting it. Trophy hunting does effect the biosphere. Driving a species to extinction because they ‘taste’ good does impact a finite world. So, Nay to shark fin fishing and any other practices that can harm our oceans, food chain or our planet’s biodiversity in an uncontrolled manner and with unknown lasting consequences.
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Ellen's Opinion
···
07/28/2019
Yes, of course...sharks are apex predators. Maintaining the species below them in the food chain and serve as an indicator of a healthy ocean. Sharks go, then many marine species would face extinction. Yes it is tradition, but so was binding women’s feet.
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David's Opinion
···
07/28/2019
Killing sharks for just their fins is a terrible thing.
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Argument opposed

If the U.S. tries to stop the shark fin trade by making it illegal to buy or sell fins, the trade will still persist by moving to the black market.

Cherie65's Opinion
···
07/28/2019
Good grief. Congress will do anything not to pass meaningful legislation that impacts everyday American lives positively. Clowns.
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Nolib's Opinion
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07/28/2019
You people never quit looking for useless things to pass laws about . You seek to control everything.: yet you can’t fix anything.
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Ronald's Opinion
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07/29/2019
Shark fins is not our issue. We are broke. We must not borrow money for this.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
  • The house Passed November 20th, 2019
    Roll Call Vote 310 Yea / 107 Nay
      house Committees
      Water, Oceans, and Wildlife
      Committee on Natural Resources
    IntroducedJanuary 23rd, 2019

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What is House Bill H.R. 737?

This bill — the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2019 — 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 of House Bill H.R. 737

In the 115th Congress, the CBO estimated that this bill wouldn't have a significant effect on net revenues, as decreased revenues from customs duties collected on imported shark fin products would be offset by increased penalty collections resulting from violations of this bill's provisions.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (I-MP) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to ban the buying and selling of shark fins in the U.S.:

“The strong, bipartisan support for this legislation sends a clear message that we have to pay more attention to protecting the Earth’s oceans and the life within those oceans. Banning the sale of shark fins to help end this wasteful and cruel practice is important, but just a small step on the way to giving the oceans the full respect they must have in federal law. Ultimately, all life on Earth depends on the health of the oceans.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) adds

“I am proud to help introduce the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, which builds upon existing federal law and state initiatives to ban the sale, purchase, or possession of shark fins in the United States. The gruesome shark-finning practices are decimating populations and putting many species on the brink of extinction. This sound bipartisan legislation will promote conservation and responsible fishing practices that are good for the environment and our economy. As the largest economy in the world, how we conduct our commerce has a profound impact on global markets and greatly influences others’ economic behavior. It is long since time we leverage our economic might against shark-finning and work to counter the larger issue of animal poaching and the illicit trafficking of animal parts.

During the 114th 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.”

Oceana's Campaign Director, Whitney Webber, adds

“Banning the U.S. shark fin trade has overwhelming support from the conservation, business and coastal recreation industries, and is a critical step for shark conservation. The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act would improve enforcement of state fin bans and reinforce the status of the United States as a leader in shark conservation. This bipartisan legislation is a sensible, non-partisan way for the U.S. to lead in shark conservation. A national fin ban is something that both sides of the aisle can agree is good for our oceans, and good for the tourism jobs and businesses that depend on healthy shark populations... [This bill] will set a new standard for shark conservation.” 

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 bill has 128 bipartisan cosponsors, including 101 Democrats and 27 Republicans, in the current session of Congress. Last Congress, this bill passed through both the Senate and House committees with the support of 262 bipartisan cosponsors in the House, including 177 Democrats and 85 Republicans. It has the support of Oceana, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, Shark Stewards, and the Animal Welfare Institute.


Of Note: Shark finning is a practice wherein fishermen remove sharks' fins, and then discard the sharks overboard to die. 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.

Although shark finning is prohibited in U.S. waters, the U.S. still has a strong market for shark fins, and consumers in most states can buy them. The U.S. is one of the world's top importers of shark fins, as well as a transit point for international shark fin shipments. Thus, the U.S. contributes to shark finning and the dwindling of shark populations.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Flickr user nicwn)

AKA

Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2019

Official Title

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

    Our forebears viewed the planet as ‘infinite’ and killing this or that or dumping this or that did not effect the ‘infinite’ planet. Well, there is just too many of us people to accept that view anymore. The planet is finite and we people are effecting it. Trophy hunting does effect the biosphere. Driving a species to extinction because they ‘taste’ good does impact a finite world. So, Nay to shark fin fishing and any other practices that can harm our oceans, food chain or our planet’s biodiversity in an uncontrolled manner and with unknown lasting consequences.
    Like (174)
    Follow
    Share
    Good grief. Congress will do anything not to pass meaningful legislation that impacts everyday American lives positively. Clowns.
    Like (35)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes, of course...sharks are apex predators. Maintaining the species below them in the food chain and serve as an indicator of a healthy ocean. Sharks go, then many marine species would face extinction. Yes it is tradition, but so was binding women’s feet.
    Like (90)
    Follow
    Share
    Killing sharks for just their fins is a terrible thing.
    Like (72)
    Follow
    Share
    Shark finning is barbaric and should be banned. Besides the moral issue, from a practical viewpoint biodiversity is very important. Predators such as wolves and sharks are just as important as farm animals or pets. We should be protecting them.
    Like (43)
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    So One Republican says “Local Governments should take care of this.” Ok, well what Jurisdiction will handle the Mariana Trench? Beyond The Waters Of Diego Garcia? If we allow Republicans to Over See Virtually ANYTHING, they’ll eat it, kill it, bury it, strip the fur off it, cut the horns off it or find some way to drive the animal 🦒 into EXTINCTION. They just can’t be trusted to handle anything. Hell, Donald Trump Jr. is the BEST example of how Republicans act. Yes, God Herself gave us Dominion over the seas and the animals etc. but I’m certain even She didn’t mean for us to WIPE OUT every living thing. Left in Republican hands, we would have NO ANIMALS, NO FISH NOR MAMMALS! Look at the damage Republicans have already done with their give a sh!t attitudes. SAVE THE SHARK! TAKE THE REPUBLICANS OUT OF ANY POSSIBILITY OF CONTROL. WE MUST CAST OUR VOTES IN THE #’s that we ARE! They don’t stand a Chance against us. The Democratic Party is ENORMOUS! WE CAN BRING THE REPUBLICAN PARTY DOWN. #VoteBlue2020 #DumpTrump #DitchMitch #TakeAmericaBack
    Like (35)
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    Sharks are already being endangered and slowly becoming extinct; harming them any further puts their entire species in danger. Harmful species or not, animals are just as important as any human being on this plant.
    Like (35)
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    Finning is a cruel and wasteful practice that is irreparably damaging the food webs in the ocean. IT NEEDS TO BE STOPPED!!!
    Like (35)
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    Absolutely. Let’s, also, stop the killing of rhinos for their horns and elephants for their tusks, while we’re at it. Save the delicate balance of our earth before it’s too late. Please! Right now it’s, almost, too late!
    Like (30)
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    This is a disgusting, horrible practice that needs to be outlawed. How can anyone in their right mind believe this sort of practice is okay? One would have to be a truly mentally sick individual to do this to a living creature.
    Like (29)
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    This is barbaric.
    Like (29)
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    EXTREMELY CRUEL!
    Like (29)
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    Stop killing everyone
    Like (26)
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    Yes, we need to do more to respect other living animals.
    Like (23)
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    We need to find alternatives to foods that involve cruelty and damage to ecology.
    Like (22)
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    You people never quit looking for useless things to pass laws about . You seek to control everything.: yet you can’t fix anything.
    Like (20)
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    Yes.
    Like (20)
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    Shark fins is not our issue. We are broke. We must not borrow money for this.
    Like (19)
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    These animals are APEX predators. You disrupt our ecosystem severely enough and ALL people inhabiting our planet will suffer. STOP DESTROYING OUR 1 and ONLY PLANET.
    Like (18)
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    Seems like decency, or why not cut the ears off people still eating their shark fin soups!? Freakin weirdoes .....
    Like (15)
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