By Anthony P. Mauro, Sr
Trenton: –(Ammoland.com)- Bill S-1764 (Prohibits Possession and Sale of Shark Fins) while well-intentioned, is misguided, overreaching, and would be ineffective if signed into law.
Bill S-1764 is an initiative of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), an extremist animal rights organization known for masquerading as an offshoot of local humane societies.
HSUS is roundly criticized for soliciting money from uninformed animal lovers and using these donations to lobby Congress for their anti-hunting, anti-fishing, anti-pet ownership, and anti-animal agriculture agenda. HSUS is run by vegetarians and is noted for having a goal of removing meat and fish as table-fare.
Although legislation initiated and supported by HSUS is not inherently bad, the history of HSUS portraying itself as one thing but taking actions that accomplish another should not only be of concern but is a clarion for vigilance. Such is the case with bill S-1764 since the purpose of the bill reflects the overreaching goal of HSUS: “We promote legislation that bans the sale of and trade in shark fins, reducing the demand by reducing the market.” It is an approach that unnecessarily eliminates the good by focusing all attention on the bad. A cursory examination of the issue not only provides alternative courses of action for reducing or eliminating shark finning but also exposes the hidden agenda of HSUS.
Some background on the matter of shark finning may be helpful. Shark finning is the practice of slicing off the shark’s fins while the shark is still alive and discarding the rest of its body back into the ocean. The shark dies due to the lack of fin use. Shark fins are the principal ingredient of shark fin soup, which is a delicacy in some cultures. Fishermen are only interested in the fins because shark meat may be of lesser economic value; it also takes up much space in the ships “hold”, which can negatively impact profitability. Shark finning appears to have increased over the past decade due to increasing demand for shark fins, improved fishing technology, and better market economics.
From a global perspective, shark finning seems to be somewhat unmanaged and unmonitored. However, there are countries that have finning restrictions in place and include: United States, Canada, Spain, Brazil, and Costa Rica. There are some countries that have lesser restrictions such as England, South Africa, Mexico, Malta, Mauretania, Namibia, Israel, Oman, and the Philippines. Shark finning violates the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and also conflicts with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s International Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks.
NJ Senate Bill S-1764 is an attempt to stop the practice of consuming fin based products by making the possession of shark fins illegal and thereby eliminating demand for shark fins. The Bill seems to reflect a trend by a few states, but may also be interpreted as fundraising initiative for agenda driven animal rights organizations.
The issue of shark finning has been addressed by the United States and made illegal in 2000 by the signing of the Shark Finning Prohibition Act. In fact, every vessel and processor has to obtain a federal permit (Highly Migratory Species) to catch/land/process/sell sharks. These permit holders are required to attend Shark Identification workshops, keep carcass logs and provide reports, keep fins attached to sharks, allow at sea observers on vessels, undergo dock-side inspections, and perform other activities that ensure compliance.
Since shark finning is global in scope, Bill S-1764 appears over-reaching and would likely have minimal impact on the practice of shark finning. Making the possession of shark fins illegal might create a black market and unintentionally add to the profitability of the practice of shark finning. Bill S-1764 would have a negative impact on New Jersey’s commercial fishing industry.
While I agree that the practice of shark finning should be banned for moral and ecological reasons, Bill S-1764 is contradictory in that it would allow a person to consume a shark but not the fins.
I believe that a more judicious and equally effective method of deterring shark finning might be to demand the same extensive record keeping and reporting currently required by US industry for all imported shark fins into the United States. Another solution, which is recommended by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) is to require that shark carcasses be landed with fins attached. This would make it illegal on vessels to possess shark fins alone.
Bill S-1764 appears to be the manifestation of a scheme designed to recruit supporters by having them rely on emotional thinking because emotional thinking is needed to cloak the weaknesses of a Bill, and an agenda, that is easily exposed by the rigors of critical thinking.
Bill S-1764 is all sizzle no steak.
Apparently the animal rights community is in an uproar about my comments. Some are even challenging my statement that the IUCN recommends that sharks be landed with fins attached. So, for everyone’s review, here’s the substantiating quote from the IUCN website:
Sonja Fordham, Deputy Chair of the IUCN SSG and co-author of the report summary. “The most reliable way to enforce a shark-finning prohibition is to require that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached to their bodies. This method is being mandated for more and more fisheries, particularly in Central and North America, creating momentum for global change.”
More on Shark Finning
I’ve received many requests for information on U.S. regulations and laws that address the unconscionable practice of shark finning. I’ve included several links to federal sites for review.
* HMS regulations (Highly Migratory Species)
* US Government 2000 Shark Finning Prohibition Act
NMFS shark study required under 2000 Shark Finning Prohibition Act (2005)
Anthony P Mauro, Sr
Anthony P. Mauro, Sr, (also known as “Ant” to friends and associates) is Chairman and co-founder of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, New Jersey Outdoor Alliance Conservation Foundation, and New Jersey Outdoor Alliance Environmental Projects.
Ant’s commitment to the principles of sustainable use of natural resources and environmental stewardship helped to create the New Jersey Angling & Hunting Conservation Caucus (NJA&HC).
The NJA&HC is the first outdoor caucus of its kind in New Jersey and is designed to educate opinion leaders and policy makers about the principles of conservation; the foundation for healthy ecosystems, fish and wildlife.