Sharks have existed for over 450 million years. They outlived dinosaurs and survived mass extinctions. Now, however, a third of shark-like and other species that we know about are at risk of extinction because of human activity. These species include the rare scalloped hammerhead Shark, the common thresher Shark, which uses a long tail and stuns prey, and the bespeckled Whale shark, the largest living fish in the world.
We have exciting news regarding shark protection and remind you to reach out to your federal legislators to obtain a crucial provision to stop the global trade of shark fins.
Sharks at risk
Overfishing, ocean pollution, accidental captures in nets that target other fish, and the horrendous practice of “finning” have all affected sharks.
Shark fin soup is a popular luxury dish that includes shark fin soup. The fins of sharks are often more expensive than the rest of their body. Fishers often only take the fins to maximize their boat space. This means that they can catch sharks and then hack off their fins. The sharks are then dumped back into the water to drown, be eaten alive or die.
Although shark finning is prohibited in the United States, it is legal in the United States. However, the United States is a market and transit point for shark fins from other countries. According to estimates, 73 million sharks die each year in order to supply the global fin trading.
The tide is turning
These grim statistics aside, there have been positive developments in shark protection at all levels, including the federal, state and international levels. This is worthy of celebration during the week for our oceans’ apex predators.
The Georgia House of Representatives unanimously approved a resolution in March that was sponsored by Ron Stephens (R.Savannah), which stated Georgia’s opposition against the shark fin trading. This effort was supported by the Georgia Aquarium and we advocated for it to emphasize the importance of protecting these species, which are so vital to ocean health.
This is particularly significant considering that Georgia has been one of the most important shark-fin exporting states in recent years. The fact that Rep. Stephens’s congressional district includes Savannah makes this resolution even more powerful. Although a resolution isn’t binding (meaning it doesn’t become a law), it signals public sentiment about an issue. We hope it will help us to create legislation that will ban shark fin trade in Georgia in the next year.
The federal Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act was sponsored by Senators in the U.S. Senate. As part of a larger legislative package, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (sponsored in the U.S. Senate by Sens. The bill, if signed into law by the U.S., would end its participation in global shark fin trading and strengthen our country’s leadership on shark protection.
At a November meeting, CITES (an international agreement that oversees international wildlife trade) will be looking at proposals to increase shark and ray protections. These proposals will ensure that the majority of fin trade species have global safeguards if they are approved.
While there will always be more to do to protect the oceans and their inhabitants we should celebrate the achievements in protecting sharks, our planet’s fascinating ancient cousins.