In a victory for environmentalists and watersports enthusiasts worldwide, a bill to end shark finning in US waters is headed to President Obama to be signed into law.
This morning the U.S. House approved the Senate version of the Shark Conservation Act (which was passed yesterday).
Shark finning is the brutal practice of slicing off a shark’s fins, often for use in shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy. The shark — sometimes still alive — is thrown back into the water to bleed to death. In addition, without the fins attached, many sharks can’t be identified, which further impedes management.
Sharks have been swimming the world’s oceans for more than 400 million years and as apex predators, they play a vital role in maintaining the health of ocean ecosystems. But due to their slow growth rate and low level of reproduction, sharks are especially vulnerable to pressure from human exploitation. Many shark populations have declined to levels where they are unable to perform their roles as top predators in the ecosystem.
Many organizations worldwide, including several in the recreational SCUBA diving industry, have been working with lawmakers to provide a level of protection for the shark populations, which are being decimated on a fast pace. The recreational SCUBA diving community applauds the passage of the measure and looks forward to it becoming law.