Earlier this month more than 85 surfers, surf businesses and surf publications sent a letter to Congress in support 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.
Renowned surfers like waterman Laird Hamilton, world champion Sunny Garcia, The Inertia Founder Zach Weisburg, filmmaker Kyle Thiermann, Mikey DeTemple, Maya Gabeira, Mary Carmel Osborne, Sebastian Steudtner, Ocean Ramsey and Mike Coots, signed the letter, which states that a nationwide ban would reduce the demand for shark fins by removing the U.S. from the global market.
While shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, fins continue to be bought and sold throughout the U.S. Fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global market every year. The demand for fins drives finning, a cruel and wasteful practice that involves cutting the fins off a shark, often still alive, then dumping the body back into the water to be eaten alive, bleed to death or drown.
Excerpts from the letter:
“Sharks have important ecological value, playing critical roles in structuring ocean food webs. This means that declines in shark populations can create a domino effect of unintended consequences, including the possibility of damaging other marine animal populations.
Twelve states and three U.S. territories have already banned the sale or trade of most shark fins. The Chinese government has stopped serving shark fin soup at official government banquets. Private companies are also refusing to ship or sell shark fin products, including Amazon, GrubHub, many hotels and major airlines, Disney and multiple shipping companies.
Even surfers who have faced risky encounters with sharks while enjoying their craft support protecting these important apex predators. Hawaiian surfer Mike Coots suffered injuries from a tiger shark encounter when he was 18-years-old, but soon after became a shark conservation advocate. He promoted legislation banning the possession of shark fins in Hawaii, and in 2010, the state became the first to pass such a law.”
Oceana campaign director Lora Snyder released this statement in response to the letter:
“Oceana applauds these top surfers for their support of a national shark fin trade ban. Surfers, who are on the water every day, know firsthand how important sharks are to healthy oceans. This letter shows they recognize the serious threat the fin trade poses to shark populations.
The United States has the chance to put a significant dent in the demand for shark fins that encourages finning worldwide. Oceana stands with these surfers in calling on Congress to pass the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act.”
The demand for fins is primarily driven by the market for shark fin soup, which is considered a delicacy in some Asian cuisines. 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, and some shark populations around the world have declined by more than 90 percent due to overfishing.
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).
Last year, Oceana released a poll that revealed eight in 10 Americans support a national ban on the buying and selling of shark fins. Other supporters of a ban include 328 businesses, 131 non-profits, nine aquariums and multiple recreational fishing interests. In May, over 150 scientists from all over the world sent a letter to Congress in support of the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act.
To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org/FinBanNow.
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Guest post by Oceana
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one third of the world’s wild fish catch. With nearly 200 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that one billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.oceana.org to learn more.