Sierra Club Testified on Shark Fin Ban, July 11, 2012
The Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club supports a prohibition of the possession, sale, and transport of shark fins within the State of Delaware.
Shark finning is a cruel and wasteful fishing practice, in which the fins of sharks are removed and the remainder of the shark is discarded back into the water. Without their fins, sharks die of blood loss or drown.
Shark fins are also toxic and pose a threat to human health. Shark fins bioaccumulate the dangerous neurotoxic amino acid [beta]-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA), which is commonly found in blue-green algae. Consumption of shark fins could increase risk for degenerative brain disease.
The International Union of Concerned Scientists’ Red List of Threatened Species lists 15 species of sharks as “critically endangered”, 11 species as “endangered”, 41 species as “vulnerable” of a total of the 257 species that are tracked. The global trade in shark fins are the most considerable factor in shark species decline.
Internationally, efforts have been made to protect sharks by banning shark finning. Catch limits for shark finning were first established in 2004 by the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), and shark finning was banned by NAFO in 2005.
The United States has prohibited shark finning in U.S. waters since 2000, with the Shark Finning Prohibition Act. According to this act, sharks cannot be possessed or landed without their corresponding carcass. The National Marine Fisheries Service final rule on the Shark Finning Prohibition Act, published in 2002, prohibits the possession of shark fins without their corresponding carcass on any U.S. fishing vessel. In 2010 the Shark Conservation Act established further protections for sharks, prohibiting fin removal from any commercial fishing vessel in U.S. waters, or any U.S. registered vessel.
Despite these efforts, there is still a significant problem with the import of shark fins into the United States. During a five-year period between 2005 and 2009, the United States imported 135 metric tons of shark fins and exported 264 metric tons of shark fins.
Delaware is within the most important transportation corridor for the Atlantic region’s metropolitan zone for truck and rail freight. Prohibitions on the possession, sale and transport of shark fins within the state of Delaware would provide protections for sharks and Delawareans who may wish to consume their neurotoxic fins within the State, and limit access to fins in other regional markets in Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York.
The Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club stresses our support for the prohibition of the possession, sale and distribution of shark fins within the state of Delaware.
 Holtcamp, Wendee. 2012. "Shark fin consumption may expose people to neurotoxic BMAA " Environmental Health Perspectives 120, no. 5: 191.
 Cemare, Trond Bjorndal, Shelley Clarke, and E.J. Milner-Gulland. 2007. "Social, economic, and regulatory drivers of the shark fin trade " Marine Resource Economics 22, no. 3: 305.
 NMFS, National Marine Fisheries Service. 2010. 2010 Shark Finning Report to Congress. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
 Morehead, Bruce C. 2002. NMFS Announces Final Rule to Implement the Shark Finning Prohibition Act. Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
 "Shark Conservation Act of 2010." 2010. United States of America.
 NMFS, National Marine Fisheries Service. 2010. 2010 Shark Finning Report to Congress. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Pages 32, 33.