Rubio Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Promote U.S. Shark Conservation as a Global Model of Sustainability
Today, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) reintroduced the Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act (S. 1008), 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 abroad. U.S. Representative Daniel Webster (R-FL) has introduced similar legislation (H.R. 788) in the House.
“U.S. shark populations are growing because of years of sustainable management, benefitting ocean ecosystems, as well as coastal economies via fishing, trade, and tourism,” Rubio said. “My bill would extend successful U.S. shark conservation and humane harvesting standards to our global trading partners, helping to protect international shark populations as well. In doing so, we can save millions of sharks from being finned at sea, and preserve the livelihoods of commercial fishermen in Florida and throughout the U.S. who continue to fish in accordance with strong federal and state fisheries management laws.
“Our nation is a leader in sustainable fisheries management. While the practice of shark finning is already banned in U.S. waters, America does have a small population of fishermen who legally harvest whole sharks for their meat, oil, and other products. To address the global problem of shark finning, it is important for us to set an example for other nations by requiring their shark fisheries to be sustainably managed,” said Murkowski. “This legislation sets a strong policy example for other nations that wish to prevent shark finning in their waters, while protecting the rights of American fisherman that operate in legal and well-regulated shark fisheries, and supporting the efforts of shark conservationists. By supporting other nations as they work to eradicate the cruel practice of shark finning, we can find solutions to protect our fisheries, our communities, and marine ecosystems worldwide.”
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.