Dear Members of Congress:
The demand for shark fins is one of the greatest threats facing shark populations around the world. 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 in the fin trade are considered at high or very high risk of extinction.
The Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act (H.R. 1456/S. 793), which has over 260 cosponsors in the House and Senate and has been endorsed by over 500 businesses and organizations, would remove the United States from this devastating trade.
Since the bill’s introduction last year, the message has been loud and clear across the globe; the United States will not stand by while many shark populations continue to decline, largely due to the demand for their fins. This notion is spreading globally. China, the world’s largest trader of shark fins, has also stepped up. Just this year, all three of its state-owned airlines banned the shipment of fins. These Chinese airlines join 42 additional airlines that have committed to not transporting fins, comprising well over 50 percent of international airlines. And it’s not only airlines that are taking action -- 20 major international shipping companies have also said they will not participate in the fin trade.
In October, over 85 surfers, surf businesses and surf publications sent a letter to Congress in support of the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act. Over 150 scientists also sent a letter in support of the bill.
While the U.S. exported under $1 million worth of shark fins in 2016, a study found that shark-related dives in Florida alone generated more than $221 million in revenue and fueled over 3,700 jobs that same year, meaning the revenue from Florida shark tourism was over 200 times that of the entire national fin trade.
Finally, although the U.S. has passed a ban on shark finning, we continue to import fins from countries with no protections for sharks. And while 12 states have passed state bans, fins continue to be imported and exported into and out of some of those states. A national ban would help ensure the U.S. no longer participates in the global shark fin trade.
Please support the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act, which will help to reduce the international fin trade market, improve upon current enforcement capabilities, and reinforce the status of the U.S. as a leader in shark conservation.