US Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act Passes

Biden Signs the National Defense Authorization Act for 2023- USA Shark Fin Ban Included.

December 15, 2022

Today President Biden signed into law H.R. 7776, the “James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023,” which authorizes fiscal year 2023 appropriations for Department of Defense programs and military construction, Department of Energy national security programs, and Intelligence programs. It also includes legislation that will protect sharks, whales and coral reefs in US waters.

The bill was reintroduced and passed through the House as part of the National Defense Authorization Act by an overwhelming majority on December 8, 2022. On Thursday, December 15, the Senate passed the NDAA with the Shark Fin Bill included in the massive spending bill.

The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act would prohibit the sale, purchase, and possession of shark fins in the United States. This would remove America from the global shark fin trade and help restore healthy ocean habitats and shark populations. Thanks to the Senate and House sponsors and to President Biden for helping ban the sale and trade of shark fin in the USA.

“The USA facilitates the global decline of sharks through consumption and import/export of unsustainably harvested shark fins. This law sets an example to China and the rest of the world by demonstrating that sharks are important to ocean health, and not as a luxury item that leads to overfishing these predators.”

David McGuire, Director Shark Stewards

Progress of Bill

The companion bill was originally reintroduced by Senator Cory Booker (D, NJ) as Senate bill S 1106 from a bill that did not pass through the 117th Congress in 2021. The Senate version passed in June 2021, included as an amendment into the Endless Frontier Act, (S 1260), introduced by Senator Chuck Schumer (D NY).

Senate bill S 1260 passed the Senate on June 8 with a vote of 68- 32 and was forwarded to the House for consideration. The House version of the act, HR 2811 was reintroduced on April 22, 2021, by Representatives Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D- MP) and Michael McCaul (R-TX).

The provision (HR 2811) was inserted into the National Defense Authorization Act and passed through the House on December 16, 2022. The Senate version that approved language making the possession, sale and trade of shark fins illegal, with a few exceptions, and ban the trade of shark fins passed through as part of the Spending Bill. The bill will was signed into law by President Biden on December 2022.

Canada (2021) and the United Kingdom (2022) passed similar laws that banned the sale and trade of shark fin and shark fin products.

Fins are the Symptom, Overfishing is the Problem

Globally shark populations are on the decline. A 2020 study found 77% of oceanic species of sharks and rays are threatened with extinction. Sharks are being overfished at an alarming rate, and the shark fin trade is threatening large species of sharks such as blue sharks with extinction. Shark Stewards supported the reintroduction and passage of the US Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act in 2021.

Shark Finning

Shark finning is the unsustainable and inhumane practice of cutting off a shark’s fins, often while the shark is still alive, and discarding the body into the ocean. The fins are used in the luxury shark fin soup and other dishes. Once an expensive dish limited to the nobility, shark fin soup is now widely sold to millions of consumers. As economies grow in Asia, a dish once reserved for the elite is now available to the middle class, and is in huge demand among many Asian communities in China and around the world, including across the United States. Although shark finning is illegal in the USA, the sale and trade of fins is still allowed in most US states and shark fins are imported and re-exported thereby contributing to shark finning and other illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing of sharks. The trade in shark fin is increasing shark catch, placing more pressure on threatened species and is driving overfishing of many shark species.

Shark Steward’s mission is to restore ocean health by saving sharks from overfishing and the shark fin trade, and protecting critical marine habitat through the establishment of marine protected areas and shark sanctuaries. With your help, we can do it!