joi, 11 septembrie 2008

U.S. Shark Bill Targets Finning Loopholes

Maximum Profit
Maximum Profit
After the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearings last month, a new shark bill promising to close disturbing loopholes in existing shark fishing regulations has inched a step closer to becoming law.

The bill, entitled The Shark Conservation Act of 2008, specifically addresses the problem of finning, or removal of a shark's fins for shark fin soup, folk remedies and other forms of consumption.

Because of this practice, shark fins are among the world's most valuable fishing products, but the real price is that sharks are further threatened with extinction, since the marine predators usually die once their finless bodies are tossed overboard.

Sharks are also a slow-growing fish, with some species producing few pups, so recovery from over-fishing is next to impossible.

"The Shark Conservation Act of 2008 reestablishes the intended protections for sharks under U.S. law," said Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), who is Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans.

"I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance this timely and important bill," she added.

Existing Loopholes

Bordallo explained that the bill attempts to close at least three loopholes. The first addresses the difficulty of enforcing "fin to carcass" ratios aboard vessels. Under current regulations, many fishermen can collect fins, so long as a comparable weight of shark bodies accompanies them.

"It has proven virtually impossible, however, to determine whether a given set of fins belong to a particular dressed carcass," she said. "As a result, there are reports of fishermen mixing fins and carcasses for maximum profit, continuing to discard less desirable, finned sharks at sea."

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