Update: Illinois Senate Poised to Advance Shark Protections

Springfield, Illinois – thousands of miles away from any ocean coast, and void of any charismatic ocean predators, like sharks, Illinois is moving swiftly to pass legislation that would help save our oceans by protecting declining shark populations around the world.  The Illinois General Assembly has been working hard to approve a measure that would ban the sale, trade, distribution or possession of shark fins in the Prairie State.  I first blogged about this when the Illinois House of Representatives passed HB 4119 by a wide margin a few weeks back in March. Now, HB 4119 – the Illinois shark fin ban – moves its way through the legislative process with new leadership from the Illinois Senate, championed by State Senator Antonio Muñoz.  Senator Muñoz has emphatically taken up the issue having received a warm embrace from his district’s residents, which by no coincidence happens to be home to Chicago’s world renowned Chinatown.  This is a very positive development and a very relevant point to note. 

Shark fins are a key ingredient used in an Asian delicacy: shark fin soup.  Not only is the practice of “finning” – removing a shark's fins, typically while still alive, inhumane, but overfishing of sharks for their fins has become so prevalent that tens of millions of sharks are being killed each year.  This threatens the survival of a species that's been around for more than 400 million years, since the time when dinosaurs roamed the earth.  Sharks are not just amazing creatures, they are an important part of healthy ocean ecosystems.  If sharks disappear, scientists expect serious and complicated consequences throughout the food web. The Dan Rather Reports segment below gives a chilling view of the practice and global fin market that this bill pushes back on.

Because sharks are so important to our oceans, I am quite pleased to be able to announce that the Illinois Senate Environment Committee has just passed HB 4119 and removed yet another hurdle for shark protections, bringing HB 4119 one step closer to the Governor’s desk where we hope it receives the distinct honor of being signed into law.

NRDC has been lobbying to advance this legislation in the Illinois General Assembly and will continue to pursue this initiative and help provide sharks and our oceans much needed relief. I encourage everyone to take a couple minutes and watch the informative video below which woefully depicts the magnitude of this devastation and will easily make those who have supported this cause feel as proud as I have to fight for shark protections.