Victory! U.S. Bans the Sale of Shark Fins

Victory! U.S. Bans the Sale of Shark Fins

In a major victory for sharks around the world, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act was passed as part of the Defense Authorization Act and signed into law by President Biden last week. This hugely important measure finally bans the sale and possession of shark fins in the United States.

Shark finning is the brutal and violent practice where humans on fishing boats capture sharks and then cut off only the sharks’ fins, often while they are still alive, and then throw their finless bodies back in the water. These horrific deaths are endured by 73 to 100 million sharks of many species every year for a “delicacy” every bit as despicable as foie gras, shark fin soup. 

The bloody practice of cutting up the animals off-shore is encouraged economically by the vast difference in the value of the fins when compared to the rest of the sharks’ bodies. The boats are not weighed down and filled up with entire shark bodies, so the involved humans have the capacity to inflict an enormous amount of carnage.

Sharks must keep swimming in order to filter oxygen from the water through their gills to survive, so when their fins are cut off, they are left to suffer excruciating deaths by suffocation, bleeding to death, or being eaten by other animals.

Shark fins arranged on an area of pavement.

Shark finning was already made illegal in the United States by the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000, which was strengthened by the Shark Conservation Act in 2010, but even with a few state sales bans enacted since then, the U.S. was still playing a large role in the global shark fin trade and millions of sharks are still being killed globally every year.  The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act goes much further by prohibiting the sale, purchase, possession, and trade of shark fins, even if they are taken from sharks internationally. This is a huge step in the right direction to provide protections for these majestic and awe-inspiring animals who have existed for millions of years and play a critical part in maintaining healthy marine ecosystems. 

In Defense of Animals and sharks across the globe celebrate the signing of the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act into law to ensure that the U.S. isn’t complicit in the gruesome shark fin trade. 

We thank everyone who supported this legislation to better protect sharks, including more than 7,000 In Defense of Animals supporters who signed our most recent alert and will continue to advocate for sharks and other marine species. 

To find out more about how to get involved, visit our Wild Animals campaign.

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