Measures to protect the shark aren't new. But in spite of countries declaring protective laws and punishment for shark hunters, shark fin soup remains a delicacy and this ocean predator remains endangered. But now hope seems to be in sight. In what is being considered a “landmark shark conservation bill”, the United States Congress has made mandatory that any vessel carrying sharks must land them with their fins intact and non-fishing vessels can't transport fins without the carcass.
Shark finning has been considered the single biggest threat to shark populations. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service estimate that nearly 1.2 million pounds of sharks were caught last year in the Pacific alone.
Activists say this law closes the loopholes in the earlier protective act that had had allowed shark fin trade to continue off the West Coast. Shark fin soup, a delicacy in Asia is reported to be the cause behind sharply declining shark populations in the oceans. Besides as a trade, it's far more profitable to trade in shark fins than the meat. Shark finning is a very cruel exercise where sharks are captured, their dorsal fins cut off and then the injured shark is dropped back into the ocean to die.As top predators in the food chain, sharks pay an important ecological role.
Shark finning was earlier in 2000 banned off the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean Coast but not the Pacific. While the US government has been trying to get global cooperation in regard to protection of sharks, its efforts have been met with missed results.
While internationally many countries have banned the fishing of six varieties of hammerhead sharks (great, scalloped, scoophead, smalleye, smooth and whitefin) in the Atlantic and oceanic whitetips, international trade restrictions are yet to be imposed.
But this law, say activists will give the Congress credibility to negotiate with other large fishing nations. In a statement, Senetor John Kerry, who authored the bill, says, "Shark fining has fueled massive population declines and irreversible disruption of our oceans. Finally we've come through with a tough approach to tackle this serious threat to our marine life."