Today, New York Assembly Members Alan Maisel and Grace Meng announced the beginning of an important effort to help restore shark populations worldwide. Their bill, A.7707a/S.6431, which is sponsored in the Senate by Senator Grisanti, would end New York’s contribution to the global shark fin trade. Like the bills signed into law this past October in California and other West Coast states, it will help stop the devastating decline in shark populations.
Sharks have swum in the oceans for over 400 million years, and yet our actions now are pushing many species to the brink of collapse. The demand for shark fins, traditionally viewed as a symbol of status and wealth, drives the practice of finning, which accounts for the slaughter of between 26 and 73 million sharks every year. Shark finning, the practice of cutting the fins off living sharks and dumping them back into the ocean, often while they are still alive, is wasteful and cruel and it occurs because the shark fins are vastly more valuable than the rest of the shark. Existing laws that ban the practice of finning in U.S. waters are not enough to address the harvest of shark fins, most of which are taken from sharks around the world, processed in Asian, then shipped to their destinations – including New York. The best way to stop this practice is to reduce the demand for shark fins.
The global decline of sharks has serious implication for the health of marine ecosystems. As an apex predator, when shark populations plummet, overall ocean health can be dramatically affected in negative and unpredictable ways. California, Oregon and Washington, along with Hawaii and the Territory of Guam have already acted to ban the shark fin trade and help stop the unsustainable killing of sharks. With the introduction of A.7707a/S.6431, New York takes a first step towards similar protection.
NRDC applauds the work of the Assembly and Senate members and the coalition that has come together in support of this bill. Sharks need immediate protection from the fin trade, and we are eager for New York to join the growing list of states that have taken action.