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Animal Attraction: Texas Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Ban Trade in Shark Fins

by Stacy Fox

khou.com

Posted on February 18, 2013 at 6:07 AM

The Humane Society of the United States and Shark Stewards praises Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-District 38, and Sen. Larry Taylor, R-District 11, for introducing H.B.852/S.B 572 to prohibit the sale, trade, purchase and transportation of shark fins in Texas. The market for shark fins fuels the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning, which is banned in the waters off of the United States but remains unregulated in many parts of the world.
 
If passed, Texas would become the sixth state to crack down on the cruel and unnecessary shark fin trade. Similar legislation has been enacted in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon and Washington as well as in the U.S. Pacific territories of Guam, American Samoa and the Marianna Islands.
 
“I am happy to work with The Humane Society of the United States and the Shark Stewards in passing this legislation,” said Rep. Lucio. “The practice of shark finning is detrimental to the Gulf ecosystem and is inhumane. I am committed to eliminating this problem and will focus our efforts in this session.”

"Federal law already prohibits the finning of sharks at sea and Texas law limits the daily bag of a shark to one per day per licensed fisher," said Sen. Taylor. "This bill complements existing law by removing sharks from the list of finfish that a person can have de-headed or de-finned and prohibits the sale and purchase of shark fins."
 
Shark finning involves cutting off the fins of sharks then throwing the shark back into the ocean, often while still alive, only to drown, starve or die a slow death due to predation from other animals. Some species of shark are on the brink of extinction due to the cruel and exploitive shark fin industry.
 
“HB 852 and SB 572 will put the state of Texas in line with other coastal states in our nation by eliminating the market for shark fins here, and will end our state’s involvement in the highly destructive global shark fin trade,” said Katie Jarl, Texas state director for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States is thankful for Rep. Lucio’s and Sen. Taylor’s leadership on this important issue.”
 
“Shark populations are plummeting worldwide and Gulf shark populations are also at serious risk from the illegal shark fin trade,” said David McGuire, director of Shark Stewards. “Reducing consumption and the trade of shark fins in Texas will help protect sharks, Texas marine ecosystems and the health of fisheries for the future.”
 
Fins sold in Texas can come from sharks from unsustainable foreign fisheries or finned sharks. 
 
Facts about shark finning:

  • Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year simply to supply the wasteful demand for shark fin soup. Shark populations cannot sustain current slaughter rates.
  • Sharks are apex predators whose survival affects all other marine species and our oceans’ ecosystems.
  • Unlike other fish species, sharks produce few pups, and thus, many species are endangered and/or threatened due to the fin trade.
  • In 2011, President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act, which closed critical loopholes in the federal law to improve enforcement. The law requires boats to land sharks with their fins still attached.
  • Federal and state laws that prohibit shark finning are insufficient to address the U.S. market for shark fins, which is why state laws prohibiting sales are so crucial.
  • The majority of shark fin imports into the U.S. come from Hong Kong, which receives its supply of fins from at least 80 countries, most of which have lax and ineffective shark finning bans.

SOURCE and LINK:
The Humane Society of the United States
http://www.humanesociety.org

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