U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has brought back his proposal for the U.S. Commerce Department to increase regulation on the international shark trade.
Last week, Rubio teamed up with Republican U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, to bring back the “Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act.”
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.
“Our nation is a leader in sustainable fisheries management. While the practice of shark finning is already banned in U.S. waters, America does have a small population of fishermen who legally harvest whole sharks for their meat, oil, and other products. To address the global problem of shark finning, it is important for us to set an example for other nations by requiring their shark fisheries to be sustainably managed,” said Murkowski. “This legislation sets a strong policy example for other nations that wish to prevent shark finning in their waters, while protecting the rights of American fisherman that operate in legal and well-regulated shark fisheries, and supporting the efforts of shark conservationists. By supporting other nations as they work to eradicate the cruel practice of shark finning, we can find solutions to protect our fisheries, our communities, and marine ecosystems worldwide.”
The issue is not a new one for Rubio who brought out the proposal last April.
Towards the end of February, U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., brought back the House version of the bill 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."
“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.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, has offered a proposal banning the sale of shark fins which cleared the U.S. Senate Committee last week. Policy experts tell Sunshine State News that Booker’s proposal would hurt Florida’s fishing industry while not actually addressing the problem which is from Asian nations that are overfishing on sharks to cut off their fins, something that is illegal in Florida and American waters. One fishing policy expert told Sunshine State News that if Booker’s proposal passes and the U.S. decides to stop the export of shark fins, other nations with lower standards will simply fill the vacuum while Rubio’s bill could force other national to raise their standards.