The decline of sharks will cut short our supply of seafood and affect human survival. This is a matter of food security, and if the present trade of sharks continues, businesses will exhaust supply of fins and of sharks forever.
“The current exploitation of sharks is simply not sustainable. Sharks cannot reproduce fast enough to cope with the high demand and many shark populations are on the verge of collapse,” Chitra explained.
A recent publication from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations provides a detailed and thorough reports of the world’s shark fin trade. In addition to the common notions of shark finning and shark fin soup, the 187 page report touches on all aspects of the global trade of shark/elasmobranch products such as livers or liver oil, shark or ray skin, cartilage, jaws or rostra, or manta or mobula gill rakers. It offers country specific data on import and export as well as economic implications of the trade.
The report is available in PDF form and can be viewed in it’s entirety. Just click on the image below for a copy of the full publication and feel free to post your comments at the end of this blog.
Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
This publication focuses primarily on providing an updated picture of the world market for shark products using data that in many cases have only become available in recent years, such as origin and destination data. Where data are still lacking, an effort has been made to estimate the relevant figures through examination of the trade databases of the world’s major traders of shark products. This increased availability of data is believed to have allowed a more accurate – and up-to-date – initial evaluation of the relative importance of each country or territory, thus providing a more solid basis on which to target investigative efforts. The country-by-country assessments of shark fin trade recording practices also constitute another important area of focus that had not previously been addressed. However, given the primary objective of this study (above), those details that are necessarily not captured in such a broad-scale review will need to be identified and elucidated in regional or country-specific studies.
Big news! Sharks will continue to receive protection under California state law. The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals just released an opinion upholding California’s shark fin ban as constitutional and not preempted by federal law. This is the first time a U.S. appellate court has weighed in conclusively on the issue of state shark fin laws, and it’s terrific to see the court coming down on the right side.
California’s shark fin ban was enacted in 2011 to end the consumption and trade of shark fins in the state, thereby weakening the market demand for fins and helping to protect shark populations. Shortly after the fin ban was passed, shark fin traders and dealers sued to invalidate the law, claiming that it was discriminatory against Chinese-Americans and was an “invalid burden on commerce.” They also tossed in an argument about preemption, claiming that California’s law conflicted with the federal fishery management statute, the Magnuson-Stevens Act. While this argument was just an afterthought at the time the case was filed, after three years and various twists and turns, it ended up being the central issue in the case.
It’s pretty scary to know that this is a major way that restaurants are obtaining shark fins for the menus.
Under EU rules, travellers are able to bring back 20kg of dried shark fin in their luggage under the same personal allowance rule that covers tobacco and alcohol.
An investigation by the charity, Bite-Back, suggests shark fins arriving in the UK through this personal allowance loophole allows travellers to sell their customs allowance for as much £3,500 to restaurants.
The 20kg allowance is enough to make 705 bowls of soup.
There is simply no other foodstuff on the list of personal imports that compares to the sharkfin loophole in terms of quantity and value. It is estimated that 20kg of shark fin is worth well of $5,000 USD on the black market. Clearly, 20kg could never be assumed for personal use only. This loophole allows for a virtually unregulated shark fin trade.
SIGN THE PETITION
Bite-Back Shark and Marine Conservation has prepared an online petition accumulating signatures to help shut down this loophole. Please take 30 seconds to add your signature to the list! You can find the petition on Care 2’s website.
More great news from Texas! We recently reported on our blog from June 1st that the proposed shark fin ban flew through the Texas Senate with an overwhelming 24-7 vote. The final stage in the legislation was for Texas state governor, Greg Abbott to sign the bill into law, which just happened on June 20, 2015!
While only the tenth state in the nation to enact such a law, the implications here are huge. Texas has seen a 240% increase in the state’s fin trade since 2010 after other states put similar laws in place. California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Oregon and Washington have all banned the trade of shark fins.
Despite the fact that the practice of shark finning is illegal in the US, there is no federal legislation that prohibits the trade of shark fins through the country. Many unsustainable foreign fisheries utilize the US in the export of fins to Asia. They exploit nations where the inhumane practice is unregulated, or unenforced.
Texas is now the first Gulf Coast state in the nation to ban participation in the shark fin trade. We hope other states will follow the lead and that eventually the United States will be a hostile environment for the shark fin trade all together.
Heres a map (data from 2013) showing the dollar value of shark fin exports from the US:
Please urge your local representatives to consider similar legislation in your state!
Great news on the political front in Texas.The shark fin bill, #HB1579 flew through the Senate with a 27 – 4 vote, according to a Texas newspaper.The bill was sponsored by Texas Democrat Eddie Lucio III and strongly supported by Senator Eddie Lucio, his father.This new legislation makes anything relating to the sale and purchase of shark fins or any products that come from shark fins a criminal offense.
Representative Lucio told The Humane Society of the United States that “sharks are the top predators in our water and serve a vital purpose within that ecosystem.Shark finning is an inhumane act banned on the Federal level, but we have to make sure Texas is not encouraging that illegal act by restricting what can be done with those fins.”The conservation organization, Oceana, estimates that half of the shark fin trade passing through the United States goes through Texas.
The final step in passing this legislation is the signature of the bill by Texas Governor Greg Abbot.If signed, Texas will join California, Oregon, Hawaii, Delaware, Washington, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York, where the trade of shark fins is already outlawed.
Most shark fins are destined for Asia, where they are the highly valued main ingredient in shark fin soup.Here, they also have a variety of other uses, such as in traditional medicines.To meet the high demand for shark fins, the cruel practice of shark finning has evolved where sharks are pulled from the ocean on baited hooks, stripped of the fins while still alive, and thrown back into the ocean where, unable to swim, they will drown.This allows the shark finning boats to reserve their cargo space for only the valuable fins.
MANILA, Philippines — Shark fin soup and other dishes from sharks and rays may soon disappear from the menu in restaurants and banquets if a bill pending at the House of Representatives becomes a law.
House Bill 5206 or the Sharks and Ray Conservation Act bans catching, selling, purchasing, possessing, transporting, importing, and exporting of all sharks and rays in the country.
The bill also prohibits the harming or killing sharks and rays in the course of catching other species of fish. Sharks and rays which are accidentally included in the catch in the course of catching other species will be immediately released unharmed to the sea, according to the bill.
To eliminate the demand that result in the massive killing of sharks and rays, the selling and serving of shark’s fin soup and all food menu with sharks and rays by-products shall be prohibited.
In line with the objectives of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, states should conserve, protect and sustain the management of the country’s sharks and ray population.
“The State shall ensure the maintenance of ecological balance and marine biodiversity for the benefit of present and future generation of Filipinos,” the measure said.
According to the bill, killing, destroying, or inflicting injury on sharks and rays will be punished with a fine of P100,000 to P1 million or imprisonment of a minimum of six years to 12 years.
Transporting, importing, and exporting sharks and rays and their by-products and derivatives will be penalized with a fine of P30,000 to P300,000, while catching, selling, or possessing such will be fined with P50,000 to P500,000.
It has been approved on third and final reading at the House of Representatives.