Despite their menacing appearance and lethal bite, sharks are under threat.
To protect the top predators of the deep, Congress joined with Hollywood legend Morgan Freeman Thursday to introduce the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act. The bill, which has bipartisan support, would ban all trade of shark fins within the United States.
"Sharks are being killed for their fins, much like rhinos and elephants have been decimated due to the demand for their horns and tusks," Freeman said. "While shark finning is banned in U.S. waters, we continue to buy, sell and trade shark fins throughout the country. By allowing the trade of shark fins within our borders, the U.S. continues to contribute to this global problem."
Although fishing for fins is banned in U.S. waters, growing demand for fin imports to the U.S. is encouraging the killing of sharks globally. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in many parts of Asia, where demand for fins is destroying many shark populations.
The group Oceana, which Freeman is collaborating with, says as many as 73 million sharks are taken each year for the fin trade.
The Fish and Wildlife Service, in related action, had reduced quotas for commercial and sport fishing of hammerheads and other sharks off the U.S. coast earlier this year because of concerns of overfishing.
The bill has the support of Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif.