US poised to ban shark fin trade, pleasing conservationists

Dec 16, 2022, 12:23 PM | Updated: 3:59 pm
FILE - Confiscated shark fins are displayed during a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Do...

FILE - Confiscated shark fins are displayed during a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Doral, Fla. In 2022, the U.S. House and Senate passed identical versions of a proposed shark fin ban as part of a broader defense spending bill that President Joe Biden is expected to sign into law. Once he does, it will be illegal for Americans to buy, sell, transport or even possess foreign-caught fins — something ocean conservation activists have long sought. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI (AP) — The U.S. is poised to ban the lucrative trade in shark fins, a move conservationists hope will help protect millions of sharks that are butchered every year to satisfy demand in China and other parts of Asia.

The practice of shark finning, whereby sharks are caught for their fins and their carcasses then dumped back into the ocean, has been banned in U.S. waters for decades. But the U.S. remains a major hub for the brisk trade where the fins of as many as 73 million sharks are cut off around the world each year.

The House and Senate passed identical versions of the proposed ban as part of a broader defense spending bill that President Joe Biden is expected to sign into law. Once he does, it will be illegal for Americans to buy, sell, transport or even possess foreign-caught fins — something ocean conservation activists have long sought.

Every year, American port inspectors seize thousands of dried, foreign-caught shark fins in undeclared shipments headed to China and other parts of Asia where shark fin soup is a delicacy.

“Our ports are no longer open for business for shark fins,” said Gib Brogan, campaign director with the ocean conservation group Oceana. “That will take them out of the supply chain and we expect it to disrupt the global fin market.”

But some scientists who study shark fisheries aren’t so certain. They believe the legislation will have little impact on the trade in shark fins and will only serve to shut down a regulated American fishery for shark meat and other legal products.

U.S. shark fisheries, although small, are well managed, and removing the country from the fin trade could encourage more exploitation of sharks in parts of the world where it’s less sustainable, said Robert Hueter, senior scientist emeritus at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida.

“It’s putting the wrong people out of the fishery, creating opportunities for those that are doing it the wrong way to have more market share,” Hueter said. “People think this is going to solve the problems, and it’s not.”

While not all sharks are killed just for their fins, none of the other shark parts — such as its meat, jaws or skin — can compete with fins in terms of value. Depending on the type of shark, a single pound of fins can fetch hundreds of dollars, making it one of the priciest seafood products by weight.

Kevin Wark, a shark fisherman based in New Jersey, said the new rules have the potential to put fishermen out of business.

“I understand there might be a lot of illegal fishing in the South China Sea and around the world, and there might be a couple incidents in the U.S., but there’s a lot of hardworking, honest guys here,” Wark said.

However, conservationists say the U.S. must act forcefully to encourage other countries to take similar steps, much in the way the U.S. ban on the ivory trade has been pivotal in protecting African elephants. The fin ban, first floated in 2017 by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, is similar to action already taken by Canada.

Overfishing has led to a 71% decline in shark species since the 1970s. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, a Switzerland-based group that tracks wildlife populations, estimates that more than a third of the world’s 500-plus shark species are threatened with extinction.

At an international wildlife conference in Panama last month, governments from around the world extended trade restrictions to more than 90 shark species that are increasingly being hunted not only for their fins, but also their meat, some of which ends up in pet food.

___

This story was corrected to reflect that the fins of as many as 73 million sharks are cut off each year, not that 73 million fins are cut off.

___

Whittle reported from Portland, Maine.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A sign near the entrance of the Reedy Creek Improvement District administration building is seen Mo...
Associated Press

Disney faces losing control of its kingdom with Florida bill

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Disney’s government in Florida has been the envy of any private business, with its unprecedented powers in deciding what to build and how to build it at the Walt Disney World Resort, issuing bonds and holding the ability to build its own nuclear plant if it wanted. Those days are numbered […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Closing prices for crude oil, gold and other commodities

Benchmark U.S. crude oil for March delivery rose $3.03 to $77.14 a barrel Tuesday. Brent crude for April delivery rose $2.70 to $83.69 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline for March delivery rose 9 cents to $2.46 a gallon. March heating oil rose 13 cents $2.90 a gallon. March natural gas rose 12 cents to $2.58 per […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Protests over cash shortage as Nigeria banknote switch looms

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — New clashes Tuesday between protesters and security forces in southern Nigeria left at least one person injured, amid demonstrations against a cash shortage caused by the West African nation’s push to rapidly phase out its old currency notes. Protesters targeted facilities of some banks accused of withholding the new banknotes ahead […]
14 hours ago
FILE - A Delta Air Lines plane takes off from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in A...
Associated Press

Delta is raising pay as airlines cope with travel rebound

ATLANTA (AP) — Delta Air Lines said Tuesday it will raise pay for its non-union employees by 5% on April 1 and increase a pool used for merit raises. Among those getting the increases will be flight attendants, who have been the target of several close organizing campaigns by unions. The raises are far more […]
14 hours ago
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks during the introduction of the integration of Microsoft Bing sea...
Associated Press

Microsoft bakes ChatGPT-like tech into search engine Bing

REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Microsoft is fusing ChatGPT-like technology into its search engine Bing, transforming an internet service that now trails far behind Google into a new way of communicating with artificial intelligence. The revamping of Microsoft’s second-place search engine could give the software giant a head start against other tech companies in capitalizing on […]
14 hours ago
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell speaks at the Economic Club of Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 202...
Associated Press

Fed’s Powell: Strong hiring could force further rate hikes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Tuesday that if the U.S. job market further strengthens in the coming months or inflation readings accelerate, the Fed might have to raise its benchmark interest rate higher than it now projects. Powell’s remarks followed the government’s blockbuster report last week that employers added 517,000 jobs […]
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
US poised to ban shark fin trade, pleasing conservationists