New York has announced that the selling or trading of shark fin products will be banned beginning July 1, 2014, exactly one year after California’s landmark legislation went into effect. However, New York has made the exception for two species of dogfish, the most populous shark in the North Atlantic.
The Shark Conservation Act of 2011 was a great step toward protecting the keystone species but sharks have been continuously slaughtered outside of United States waters and then sold in coastal states for high profits. It is estimated that more than 73 million sharks are killed to make shark fin soup each year. A ban on the sale and trade of the fins caught elsewhere is a move toward shrinking that shocking number!
It is hoped that the combination of new regulations in New York and California, two of the nation’s largest markets for shark fins, will make large strides in shark protection. Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, Oregon, Washington, Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands have already banned the sale of shark fin. The European Union placed a “fins attached” regulation earlier this month.
With nearly 90 percent of top predators missing from our oceans this is a pertinent issue. Without sharks certain species can overpopulate, throwing the marine ecosystem out of balance. Their presence also marks the cleaning and vitality of ocean habitats. Sharks need to be given every opportunity to regrow their populations.
In the same way that land predators such as wolves have needed extra protection from fear, stereotypes and hunting, sharks are earning a well-deserved spotlight in the conservationist world. Their existence is so critical to marine habitats and humans alike.
Save Our Shores believes in sustainable fishing practices. The needless killing of sharks, who often have their fin removed and are then thrown back into the sea and left to drown, is a practice that must be stopped. This is neither sustainable nor humane. We applaud the actions of conservationists and the legislators who heed their calls to end the slaughter of such an important species.