Posts Tagged 'shark fin soup'

Thoughtful Thursdays: Maryland Shark Fin Ban Signed Into Law!

government affairs and policy update

Governor Martin O’Malley signed a bill prohibiting the sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins into law this morning, making Maryland the first state on the East Coast to grant sharks this crucial protection.

Governor Martin O'Malley signing the shark fin ban into law.

Governor Martin O’Malley signing the shark fin ban into law.

Our home state has now joined California, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon and Washington in enacting laws regarding shark finning. Perhaps most exciting of all, the state of Delaware passed similar legislation only last night and New York is poised to do the same in the coming weeks.

Maryland’s law, which will help curb the unjust killing of approximately 100 million sharks every year, was sponsored by Senator Brian Frosh and Delegate Eric Luedtke and passed by the Maryland General Assembly with bipartisan support earlier this year.

There are as many as 62 species of shark found off the Atlantic coast of North America (and 12 species found right in the Chesapeake Bay). Because they have few natural predators, are slow to mature and produce very few young, shark populations are very sensitive to environmental and commercial fishing pressures. Their continued depletion could cause irreparable damage to marine ecosystems around the world.

The National Aquarium worked closely with the bill sponsors, the Humane Society of the United States, the National Wildlife Federation, Oceana, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and recreational watermen on the issue. The new law provides exemptions for commercial and recreational fishermen, a museum, college, or university to possess a shark fin. The mid-Session addition of an amendment to exempt smooth-hound and spiny dogfish from the bill limits the impact on Maryland’s hard-working watermen yet still protects the most vulnerable families of sharks – large apex predators. The resulting legislation addresses both the supply and demand side of the market for shark fins by prohibiting the sale, trade, possession, and distribution of both raw and processed fins.

As part of our mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, we take very seriously our responsibility to educate guests on the majesty and importance of sharks to the worlds’ oceans. We’d like to sincerely thank all those who showed their public support of this ban and Delegate Eric Luedtke and Senator Brian Frosh for championing this legislation through the General Assembly!

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Maryland House of Delegates Passes Shark Fin Ban!

The House of Delegates has passed HB 1148 – Maryland’s proposed ban on the possession, sale and trade of shark fins! If adopted by the state Senate, Maryland would join California, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon and Washington and all three U.S. Pacific territories of Guam,  American Samoa and Northern Mariana Islands in passing laws to provide critical protection to sharks and to preserve the health of the world’s ocean ecosystems.

Recent studies indicate that close to 100 million sharks are killed every year – a crippling statistic for the long-term survival of these incredible creatures!

Last month, National Aquarium’s CEO John Racanelli testified before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee in favor of Maryland’s proposed ban on the possession, sale and trade of shark fins. John and others spoke passionately about the need to save our sharks and how these bills will end Maryland’s involvement in the unsustainable and inhumane market for shark fins.

Among those voicing their support for this legislation was fourth-grader Keegan Taylor. Keegan, donning an anti-shark finning t-shirt, displayed her great love of sharks and eloquently urged Maryland’s legislators to pass the bill.

Aquarium CEO John Racanelli and Keegan Taylor

Aquarium CEO John Racanelli and Keegan Taylor

When asked how she became so passionate about protecting sharks, Keegan said, “I first became passionate about sharks when I was 4 years old and watched Shark Week, which I look forward to watching every year. I then got lots of books about sharks and all of the Jaws movies and some shark documentaries. I learned that the author of Jaws worked really hard to help people understand that sharks are not enemies of people since the movie made some people scared. I love sharks and have posters all over my room and have written stories about them.”

Keegan’s Top Seven Reasons Why We Must Ban the Possession or Distribution of Shark Fins:

  1. It is cruel and inhumane to fin sharks. Shark finners cut off the shark’s fin and then throw the shark back in the water to die a painful death. It would be like cutting off your arms and legs and then throwing you in the middle of the street.
  2. It is depleting the shark population, placing many species on the endangered list. If the shark population is depleted – or worse, eliminated – it will disturb the entire ecosystem of the ocean. This will impact all food sources and have a negative impact on humans and many other species. For instance, depleted blacktip and tiger shark populations along the East Coast of the U.S. led to decreased shellfish populations, which led to decreased water quality since shellfish filter water. At this rate, the oceanic ecosystem that has evolved over millions and millions of years would collapse.
  3. It is basic supply and demand. If there is no demand for shark fins because owning or distributing them is illegal, then there will be no demand and no more shark finning.
  4. Shark fins are not even healthy for you! They contain high levels of mercury and add no flavor or consistency to food. The main reason behind finning sharks is for consumer consumption, and a recent study conducted at the University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank found that consuming shark fins may put consumers at risk. The study, published in the journal Marine Drugs, found that shark fins from Florida waters have a high concentration of a neurotoxin (β-Methylamino-L-alanine) that has been linked to Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
  5. It’s a wasteful practice. Only the fin is saved while the rest of the shark is thrown back into the ocean. Shark meat is not popular because of the high ammonia content.
  6. President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act, banning shark finning in U.S. waters, but only five states have banned the distribution and possession of shark fins so far.
  7. The European Union, which is one of the largest exporters of shark fins to Asia, banned finning in 2003, but in a loophole, companies with freezer vessels applied for “special fishing permits” that allowed them to continue if they landed the fins separately from the bodies. The issuing of these permits became standard practice, making a mockery of the law. This loophole was recently closed.

Keegan will soon be visiting National Aquarium to go behind the scenes and meet our sharks! We’ll be sure to share a recap of her visit with everyone!

Act Now! Help Maryland Become a Leader in Saving Worldwide Shark Populations

Our research team tags sharks off the coast of Ocean City every year to gather data on migration and abundance!

Our research team tags sharks off the coast of Ocean City every year to gather data on migration and abundance

Shark populations worldwide are in danger of collapse due to fishing pressures stimulated in part by the global demand for a non-nutritional delicacy known as shark fin soup. Scientists now estimate that nearly 97 million sharks - or roughly 7% of their worldwide populations – are killed every year. The best way to stop this practice is to eliminate the demand, which is exactly what the National Aquarium and our partners are proposing via legislation that will help eliminate the market for shark fins in Maryland.

Current Federal and Maryland laws ban shark “finning” by requiring that sharks be caught and delivered to market with their fins intact.  However, no current laws restrict the number of sharks killed for their fins, or limit the economic incentives to overfish sharks for their fins.

The Maryland General Assembly is considering a bill – House Bill 1148 and Senate Bill 592 – that would ban the possession, sale, and trade of shark fins. If passed, Maryland would join Hawaii, Washington, California, Oregon, and Illinois  and would become the first state on the East Coast to end our involvement in the unsustainable and inhumane market for shark fins. This is Maryland’s opportunity to lead.

The bill is currently being debated in the House Environmental Matters Committee and will likely be debated in the House over the next two days.  Act now by calling or emailing your legislators and urge them to vote for sharks.

Sharks are integral to the health of our oceans yet worldwide fishing pressure, driven by the demand for shark fins, is simply too great to allow sharks to have sustainable populations.

As part of our mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, we take very seriously our responsibility to educate guests on the majesty and importance of sharks to the worlds’ oceans.  With your help, Maryland could become a leader in saving worldwide shark populations!

Come Learn More About Shark and Ocean Preservation – And How YOU Can Help!

On December 13, we’ll be joining Oceana and the Humane Society in Ocean City, Maryland to host a community meeting on the importance of shark preservation – and how you can help us save them!

Actress January Jones is just one of the many who have spoken out in favor of protecting sharks! Photo via Oceana

Actress January Jones is just one of the many who have spoken out in favor of protecting sharks! Photo via Oceana

Sharks have inhabited this planet for more than 400 million years, historically known as fierce apex predators, this species is now incredibly vulnerable to exploitation. Every year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins. In most cases their fins are cut off at sea while the shark is still alive, and then thrown back into the ocean. Without their fins, sharks cannot swim and quickly die.

Our research team tags sharks off the coast of Ocean City every year to gather data on migration and abundance!

Our research team tags sharks off the coast of Ocean City every year to gather data on migration and abundance!

National Aquarium, along with our partners at Humane Society, Oceana, and the National Wildlife Federation, has been a leading supporter of legislation in the state of Maryland to hinder the market for shark fins by prohibiting their possession and sale. Similar to making the trade of elephant ivory illegal, such legislation would ensure that shark finning and unsustainable fishing practices are not tolerated.

Help us join an international campaign to protect these amazing animals: 

Date: Thursday, December 13, 2012
Time: 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Address:
10003 Coastal Highway
Ocean City, MD 21842
United States

RSVP Here

A Blue View – Man, Eating Shark

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

November 28: Man, Eating Shark

Listen to John discuss the importance of protecting shark populations around the world from overfishing. 

Can you guess what the following things have in common? Lightning; driving to the beach; dogs; falling coconuts…

Give up?

Each one is more likely to kill you than a shark.

And yet, shark populations in all of our oceans are in danger of collapse, mainly due to overfishing. Commercial and recreational fishing kills up to 73 million sharks every year—including tens of millions solely for their fins. That’s roughly 200,000 sharks every day!

Here’s what you can do to help save sharks: 

  • Just say no to shark fin soup! Don’t patronize restaurants or stores that serve or sell shark products. The Animal Welfare Institute has compiled a database of restaurants that have shark fin soup on the menu. You can also take the Shark Savers pledge to say you’re FINished with fins.
  • Write a letter to your representatives, or sign a petition like this one from our partners at Oceana, asking those with the power to change and enact laws to do so.
  • If you’re a Maryland resident, support the bill that will be introduced in Maryland’s next legislative session that would ban the possession or distribution of shark fins in the state. This legislation will ensure that Maryland is not contributing to the supply and demand of shark fins.
  • Avoid eating seafood that is caught in a way that brings in sharks as bycatch. Download Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch card for a list of ocean-friendly seafood and what to avoid.
  • Spread the word. Share this information with your social networks by clicking on the icons at the top of this page. The more awareness we can generate about this issue, the better.

Stay tuned next week for our next A Blue View series! 


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