Sustainable Shark Trade Bill Supported by Both Conservationists and Fishing Industry


H.R. 5248, the Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), along with co-sponsors Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL).

The Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act would require that imports of shark, ray, and skate parts and products to the U.S. be permitted only from countries certified by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as having in place and enforcing management and conservation policies for these species comparable to the U.S., including science-based measures to prevent overfishing and provide for recovery of stocks, and a similar prohibition on shark finning.

By requiring that imports of shark, skate, and ray parts and products be subject to the same standards that U.S. domestic fishers already meet, the legislation aims to level the playing field for U.S. producers and use access to the U.S. market as leverage to encourage other countries to adopt and implement strong conservation and management measures that support sustainable fisheries and trade in shark and ray products.

Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) said, “Fishing is a long-standing profession and treasured American pastime, and particularly important in Florida. Our responsibility to is balance the needs of the industry with conservation. This bill recognizes the sacrifices American fishermen have made to rebuild and sustain our shark populations. It encourages other nations wishing to export shark products to the United States to the same high standards for shark, skate, and ray conservation and management we apply to fishermen here.”

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) said, “U.S. shark fisheries are governed by some of the strongest science-based conservation regulations in the world. Accordingly, we should be leading the charge to counsel other nations in proper shark management. Preventing exploitation in global fisheries helps safeguard our ocean’s delicate ecosystem and can help promote the humane treatment of shark populations. I’m proud to introduce this bill with Rep. Webster because the U.S. should be leading the charge in environmental conservation efforts. We have a responsibility to disincentivize the trade of unsustainably or illegally harvested shark fins and other shark products.”

Luke Warwick, Associate Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Sharks and Rays Program, said: “Sharks play an essential part in the health of our oceans, and they need our help. Research has clearly shown that effective fisheries management can reverse the global declines see in shark and ray populations, but that outside of a limited number of countries including the US, such management is lacking. This law would incentivize countries to better manage their shark and ray fisheries, which when coupled with our work globally to support those Governments understand their shark fisheries, and develop strong conservation and management measures, can help safe these inherently vulnerable animals.”

Bob Jones, executive director of the Southeastern Fisheries Association in Tallahassee, Florida, said, “We’d like to thank Congressmen Webster and Lieu for introducing the Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act, which represents a better way forward for shark conservation. This legislation goes a long way toward combating the threats facing global shark stocks by promoting the successful model of American shark management.”

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