Matt Rand, director of the Pew Environment Group’s Global Shark Conservation Campaign, issued the following statement today in response to the U.S. Senate passing the Shark Conservation Act, which was introduced by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA).
“The Senate has acted decisively today to help protect sharks, the predators at the top of the global marine food chain. The Shark Conservation Act would once and for all end the practice of shark finning in U.S. waters and give the United States the credibility to persuade other nations and international fishery managers to follow suit.
“Sharks are in serious trouble. An estimated 73 million are killed every year primarily to support the global shark fin trade. 30 percent of the world’s species are threatened or near threatened with extinction. Some populations, such as scalloped hammerheads and dusky sharks along the eastern U.S. coast, have plummeted by as much as 80 percent since the 1970s.
“As our marine environment becomes more and more threatened, we need further safeguards to keep ecosystems and top predator populations healthy. Domestic protections alone will not save sharks. The U.S. should use this act to bolster its position when negotiating for increased international protections.”
“We commend the sponsor of this bill, Senator John Kerry, as well as Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller and Senator Olympia Snowe for their assistance in passing this important legislation. We also thank Delegate Madeleine Bordallo of Guam for her sponsorship of the House version of this bill.”
1. Statistics on shark populations obtained from:
- S. Clarke, et al., “Global estimates of shark catches using trade records from commercial markets,” Ecology Letters, 9:10, Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS, 2006, pp. 1115-1126, www.iccs.org.uk/papers/Clarke2006EcologyLetters.pdf
- International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Shark Specialist Group, http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/ssg_pelagic_report_final.pdf
- J. Baum, et al., “Collapse and Conservation of Shark Populations in the Northwest Atlantic,” Science 17 January 2003 299: 389-392, http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/299/5605/389.pdf
2. The House of Representatives passed an earlier version of the bill by unanimous consent in April 2009 but would have to pass an updated version.