Over 150 Scientists Ask Congress to Pass National Shark-Fin Trade Ban

Today, May 9, more than 150 scientists from around the world sent a letter to Congress urging the passage of the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act

Today, May 9, more than 150 scientists from around the world sent a letter to Congress urging the passage of the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act (S. 793/H.R.1456), which would ban the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States. The letter, led by Dr. Francesco Ferretti from the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University, states that a nationwide ban would “remove the United States from the global fin trade, improve enforcement of state bans, and reinforce the status of the United States as a leader in shark conservation.”

The bipartisan legislation was introduced earlier this year by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (I-M.P.). Shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters. Shark fins, however, including imports from countries that allow finning, are still bought and sold throughout the U.S. The demand for shark fins is one of the greatest threats facing shark populations around the world.

Excerpt from the letter:

“The conservation status of sharks is one of the most pressing biodiversity issues today. Many shark populations are declining worldwide because of fishing. Sharks have been a relatively stable force in ocean ecosystems over evolutionary time. They possess a unique combination of ecological traits that makes them especially vulnerable to exploitation. In the last few decades, exploitation of their populations has rapidly escalated. This is mainly due to an increased demand for shark fins from Asian markets.

Therefore we urge Congress to ban the sale of shark fins nationwide via the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act. Eleven states (Texas, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinoi, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, California, and Washington) and 3 territories (American Samora, Guam, and the North Mariana Islands) have already banned the trade of shark fin products. The Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act would remove the United States from the fin trade altogether. It would improve enforcement capabilities, and reinforce the United States as a leader in shark conservation.”

Oceana campaign director Lora Snyder released the following statement in response:

“We commend these scientists for taking a stand for sharks by supporting a national shark fin trade ban. This letter clearly shows that many in the scientific community agree that the United States should remove itself from the fin trade altogether.

It’s not too late. The United States can set an example for the rest of the world to follow. Oceana stands with these leaders in the scientific community to urge Congress to pass the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act.” 


The global shark fin trade has led to the wasteful and inhumane practice of shark finning – cutting the fins off a shark and discarding its body at sea, often still alive, only to drown, bleed to death or be eaten alive. Some shark populations have declined by more than 90 percent in recent decades due to overfishing. Fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global market every year, and more than 70 percent of the 14 most common shark species involved in the Hong Kong trade are considered at high or very high risk of extinction.

In March, Oceana released an independent report finding that shark-related dives in Florida generated more than $221 million in revenue and fueled over 3,700 jobs in 2016. This stands in stark contrast with the total U.S. shark fin export market ($1.03 million in 2015).

Also, today, over 100 dive-business owners from the state of Florida sent a letter to Senator Nelson and the Florida delegation urging them to support the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act. Supporters of a national ban on shark fins include 240 businesses, 129 non-profits, nine aquariums and multiple recreational fishing interests. Last year, Oceana released a poll revealing that eight in 10 Americans support a national ban on buying and selling shark fins.

To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org/FinBanNow.

Who is Oceana?

Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization that focuses solely on ocean conservation. We run science-based campaigns and seek to win policy victories that can restore ocean biodiversity and ensure that the oceans are abundant and can feed hundreds of millions of people. Oceana victories have already helped to create policies that could increase fish populations in its countries by as much as 40 percent and that have protected more than 1 million square miles of ocean. We have campaign offices in the countries that control close to 40 percent of the world’s wild fish catch, including in North, South and Central America, Asia, and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.

Guest post by Oceana

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