The US bans the sale of shark fins. Here’s why.
The US will ban the buying and selling of shark fin, a lucrative ingredient prized in some kitchens but linked to a practice condemned by conservationists as cruel and unethical.
The Senate on Thursday approved a provision called the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, which was inserted into an annual military policy bill that will go to President Joe Biden for signature. The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act represents a multi-year legislative effort to ban the shark fin trade under pressure from animal rights and environmental organizations such as the Animal Welfare Institute and Oceana.
Shark fin is the main ingredient in shark fin soup, a delicacy in some Asian cultures as it is perceived as a luxury food and status symbol. Because it’s so valuable, a pound of shark fin can sell for hundreds of dollars, making it one of the most expensive types of seafood by weight.
#BREAK: Congress just passed historic legislation banning the shark fin trade in the United States. Every year, the fins of 73 million sharks end up on the global fin market. Last night’s ban marks a #VICTORY for sharks 🦈 #FinBanNow@CoryBooker @SenCapito @RepMcCaul
— Oceana (@oceana) December 16, 2022
However, collecting shark fins has long been criticized by animal rights activists, with fishermen cutting off sharks’ fins and then throwing the mutilated animals back into the ocean where they cannot survive.
It’s not known how many shark fins are collected each year, but rights group Animal Wellness Action said it affects up to 70 million sharks each year. Several states already ban the sale of shark fins.
“Shark finning evokes the cruelty and wanton destruction of the Middle Ages,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, in a statement. “But it’s more of a modern evil, and the United States has realized that this trade is no longer legal in our nation.”
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However, some critics of the bill claim it will not prevent fishing teams from catching sharks. A commercial fisherman told the Washington Post that a ban on selling shark fins in New Jersey meant he simply cuts off fins and throws them away while he sells the rest of the shark.
The ban is the “poster child of people doing something to feel good and thinking they’re going to save the species,” Kevin Wark, who traps sharks and anglerfish from his base in Barnegat Light, NJ, told the Post . “It just creates a system of waste.”
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