Rubio Introduces Bill To Promote U.S. Shark Conservation As A Global Model Of Sustainability
U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act (S. 2764), bicameral legislation that recognizes the sustainable and economically-valuable fishing practices of U.S. shark fishermen and promotes U.S. standards for shark conservation and humane harvest. U.S. Representative Daniel Webster (R-FL) has introduced similar legislation (H.R. 5248) in the House.
“Sharks play an important role in maintaining the health of the ocean ecosystems for which Florida is known for,” said Senator Rubio. “Sharks are already sustainably and humanely harvested in federal waters per U.S. law, providing sustained economic benefits to coastal communities through fishing, trade, and tourism. This bill will help promote those same standards for sustainable and humane shark harvesting among our global trade partners as well. This bill protects international shark populations as well as the fishermen in Florida and throughout the U.S. who continue to fish by the rules.”
“While the practice of shark finning is already banned in U.S. waters, we do have a small population of fishermen who legally harvest whole sharks for their meat, oil, and other products,” said Senator Murkowski. “This legislation sets a strong policy example for global nations that wish to prevent shark finning in their waters, while respecting the cultures of communities that rely on subsistence, protecting the rights of American fisherman that operate in the legal shark fisheries, and supporting the efforts of shark conservationists. Together, we can find solutions to protect our fisheries, our communities, and our marine ecosystems, worldwide.”
“Fishing is a long-standing profession and treasured American pastime,” said Representative Webster. “We must pursue conservation, while balancing the needs of the industry and recreation. 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 adhere to the same high standards for conservation and management.”
Specifically the Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act would:
- Create a shark conservation and trade fairness certification for nations wishing to import shark products to the U.S.;
- Prohibit the importation of shark products originating from any nation without a certification, and the possession of such products in the U.S. with limited exceptions for law enforcement, subsistence harvest, education, conservation, or scientific research;
- Update the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act to reflect the U.S. commitment to promote international agreements that encourage the adoption of shark conservation and management measures and measures to prevent shark finning that are consistent with the International Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks;
- Direct the Secretary of Commerce to include rays and skates into the seafood traceability program to ensure that shark products are not smuggled into the U.S. falsely labeled as rays and skates, two closely related groups.