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Dan Webster Brings Back Sustainable Shark and Fisheries Trade Act

February 6, 2019 - 6:00am

U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., has brought back his proposal for the U.S. Commerce Department to increase regulation on the international shark trade. 

Towards the end of last month, Webster brought back his “Sustainable Shark and Fisheries Trade Act” proposal which is being backed by cosponsors from both sides of the aisle including fellow Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Matt Gaetz and Ted Yoho.

"As a Floridian and member of the House Natural Resources Committee, responsible oversight of our nation’s wildlife, environment, and fishing industry is one of my priorities," Webster said when he unveiled the proposal. "American fishermen have made sacrifices to rebuild and sustain our shark populations. In the United States, we hold high standards for conservation and fishery management. "

The bill “would require any country that seeks to export shark, ray, and skate to the US to first demonstrate it has a system of science-based management to prevent overfishing and a prohibition on the practice of shark finning" and ensure other nations “must also receive certification from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that its fisheries management policies are on par with US practices” and  modifies the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act.

“By holding imports to the same standards that domestic fisheries already meet, this bipartisan legislation levels the playing field for our fishermen and helps maintain vibrant and economically-viable fishing communities, both on U.S. shores and around the world,” Webster’s office insisted. 

Webster also reeled in the support of a number of different groups. 

"I am grateful for the support of conservation and fishing organizations across the country including, Mote Marine Laboratory, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Palm Beach Zoo, SeaWorld, Zoo Miami Foundation, Florida Aquarium, Southeastern Fisheries Association, Directed Sustainable Fisheries, and the Wildlife Conservation Society," Webster said. 

The issue is not a new one for Webster who brought out the proposal last March. Towards the end of April, two Senate Republicans--Marco Rubio of Florida and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska--introduced the bill in the upper chamber. 

“Sharks play an important role in maintaining the health of the ocean ecosystems for which Florida is known for,” said Rubio when he brought out the Senate version. “Sharks are already sustainably and humanely harvested in federal waters per U.S. law, providing sustained economic benefits to coastal communities through fishing, trade, and tourism. This bill will help promote those same standards for sustainable and humane shark harvesting among our global trade partners as well. This bill protects international shark populations as well as the fishermen in Florida and throughout the U.S. who continue to fish by the rules.”

“While the practice of shark finning is already banned in U.S. waters, we do have a small population of fishermen who legally harvest whole sharks for their meat, oil, and other products,” said Murkowski. “This legislation sets a strong policy example for global nations that wish to prevent shark finning in their waters, while respecting the cultures of communities that rely on subsistence, protecting the rights of American fisherman that operate in the legal shark fisheries, and supporting the efforts of shark conservationists. Together, we can find solutions to protect our fisheries, our communities, and our marine ecosystems, worldwide.”

Webster’s bill has at least two committee stops at the U.S. House  Natural Resources and the Ways and Means Committees before it hits the House floor. So far, there is no version of the bill in the Senate yet. 


oh Jerry Jerry You have no standing on your comments on the size of fishing boats or their source of power, I have been offshore in the oil industry and in my own boat a 20 footer and in that smaller boat I Learned I needed a bigger boat just for safety let me see your reaction when you get caught in a popup storm with 6 to 8 foot swells so my point is speak from experiance

A Smart Common sense bill for sure! Good for sharks and good for Americans. Well done !!! The fin ban bills proposed are nothing but a resource grab away from the public and a punishment to Americans who have sacrificed much in their way of life and played by the rules to help sustain the shark populations for all plus protecting the public by not allowing our waters to become “‘too shark infested”’ for our children to swim in. If you ban the fins but allow the meat sales then you end up banning the entire shark fishery because all of the shark must be and should be utilized to make it a profitable fishey and therefore exist. A shark fin ban is like keeping the lobster but throwing away the claws. Don’t worry folks, according to the best science available, the sharks are doing very well in our coastal waters. They will be here a long time after you are gone.

What science? Feel free to actually cite something...

Thank you Mr. webster for pointing out the sacrifices that the u.s. fisherman have made over the years doing the right thing and yet still people want to put us out of business by stopping the sell of fins.Shark is a great resource that the grocery stores should get back on their displays and utilize the sustainable resource that it is.Please continue the fight for the right thing and keep our shark fishery open to be able to harvest a sustainable seafood.

I remember when repubs were big on conservation as about as fiscally and morally conservative as one can get...…….So nice to see here maybe some of that is coming back...……………...We have a great resource around Florida that once was a source of food now a tiny fraction of that...……………….Yet using low cost simple technics we could bring that back plus stop fouling the waters it could be great again...…………...But we need about 50% no catch zones that can rebuild themselves back to their former glory and stop using destructive, expensive fishing technics...……….And a big thing is the cost of the fishing boats where they have to catch 3x as much to just break even vs solar, sail, wind powered lower cost fishing boats that one needs to catch far less fish to make a great living...…….. Dragging nets like now used to shrimp need to stop and more targeted fishing equipment to replace them so sealife can recover and the bycatch waste stopped...………...This way we can employ far more Floridians making good money with 4x the present catch but 8x the income as not wasting it on fuel, too big fishing boats.

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