U.S. Government Issues Shark Finning Ban in Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico Waters
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) today filed new rules that
will require federal shark fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of
Mexico to land sharks with their fins still naturally attached.
Previous federal regulations required only that fins and carcasses be
brought to dock in a specific ratio, allowing shark fins to be cut off
"The new rules are a milestone for U.S. shark
conservation," said Elizabeth Griffin, marine wildlife scientist at
Oceana. "The fins-attached rule in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of
Mexico sets a good precedent for shark fisheries in the rest of the
The new fins-attached landing policy, part of
Amendment 2 to the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Fisheries Management
Plan, will aid conservation by facilitating species identification and
data collection and by ensuring that fishermen are not engaged in shark
finning at sea. It also includes an 85 percent reduction in fishing for
Although the benefits of the new rules are
significant, the rules do not go far enough in protecting other large
coastal shark species, including porbeagle and great hammerhead sharks,
which are still being targeted by fishermen despite scientific evidence
that their populations are in trouble. In fact, the status of 10 of the
11 large coastal sharks allowed for catch is now considered unknown,
even though previous NMFS assessments stated that this entire group of
sharks was overfished. The new rules also fail to require hard limits
on bycatch for struggling shark species such as the dusky.
"Continued uncontrolled bycatch of dusky sharks, a species that NMFS
estimates will take 400 years to recover, is simply unacceptable," said
Earlier this year, Congress also took steps to
improve shark management and conservation with the introduction of the
Shark Conservation Act of 2008 by Congresswoman Bordallo of Guam. Last
week, the bill passed out of the Natural Resources Committee with an
amendment offered by Congressman Faleomavaega of American Samoa,
requiring that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached.
Because of their role as apex predators, removal of large sharks from
the ocean ecosystem can cause drastic and irreversible damage to our
oceans. Sharks are in peril around the world from overfishing, driven
in large part by the lucrative trade in shark fins.
have received media attention recently because of shark attacks in the
U.S. and abroad. While shark attacks are very rare, these incidents
receive a great deal of exposure due to the widespread but incorrect
perception that sharks deliberately prey upon humans. In fact, sharks
are threatened more by humans than humans are by sharks.
"Sharks are absolutely the most majestic, beautiful and ever so
powerful creatures on this earth," said Amanda Beard, 7-time Olympic
medalist swimmer who is working to help Oceana spread the word about
the threats currently facing sharks. "Sadly, human activities are
pushing many shark species towards extinction."
statistics on shark attacks, a top 10 list of myths abouts sharks, tips
for avoiding shark bites and to learn more about Oceana's campaign to
protect sharks, please visit www.oceana.org/sharks.
To watch Amanda Beard's PSA on the deaths of more than 100 millions sharks by the fishing industry each year, go to http://www.oceana.org/sharks/shark-video/.