The first time I saw an image of a finned shark I was appalled. The shark was sinking in clear beautiful blue water without it’s classic dorsal fin. The image was especially disturbing because it took a moment for my brain to register what I was looking at, and because the shark was clearly in great distress.
The practice of shark finning is outlawed in U.S. waters, but many countries like Columbia, Ecuador and Oman still allow it, while others like Costa Rica have weak or unenforced regulations. Due to the global nature of our world shark fins gathered legally or illegally are washing up into the U.S. marketplace and being transported and sold within our borders.
The good news is that states are taking notice and one by one passing regulations that outlaw shark fin products. For instance, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Oregon and Washington, as well as in the three U.S. Pacific territories of Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands all already have similar anti-shark fin laws in place.
And just a few weeks ago, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a bill (H.B. 1579) that makes it illegal to commercially trade shark fins in his state. This makes the lone star state the 10th state to prohibit the sale, movement, trade etc. of shark fins. Rep. Lucio who introduced the Texas bill told the media that, “shark finning is not only an inhumane and illegal act, but it also puts the sustainability of our marine ecosystem at stake.”
Now, three other states – Vermont, Rhode Island and New Jersey – have similar legislation on the table that would make it illegal to trade, sell and transport shark fins within their borders.