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Oceana, WildAid, COARE’s Rebuttal to Shark-Finning Study
By Joanna Lentini, October 3, 2017 @ 09:22 PM (EST)


Last month, DPG reported on a piece published in the journal Marine Policy by scientists David Shiffman and Robert Hueter. Both Shiffman and Hueter suggested the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act (SFTEA) would ultimately harm shark conservation efforts and weaken sustainable shark fisheries in the U.S. However, Oceana, WildAid, COARE, and Humane Society International have issued a rebuttal to their assertions.

In the rebuttal document, created by Lora Snyder, Campaign Director at Oceana; Iris Ho, Wildlife Program Manager at Humane Society International; Peter Knights, Executive Director at WildAid, and Christopher Chin, Executive Director at COARE, the group highlights several flaws with Shiffman and Hueter’s claims.

The group argues that the implementation of SFTEA would in no way shut down sustainable shark fisheries in the U.S.—as Shiffman and Hueter suggested. Furthermore, according to the rebuttal, Shiffman and Hueter apparently cited only a specific section of a survey, which made it seem as though a vast majority of scientists oppose a shark fin trade ban—when in reality the opposite is true.

The document points out that while Shiffman and Hueter oppose merging shark-finning and shark fishing, “the authors themselves confuse shark fin trade bans and a ban on all shark products to make their point.” Towards the end of the document, the group highlighted remarks made by Shiffman and Hueter, regarding the need to avoid “cultural clashes” as “culturally insensitive.” The group went on to explain the progress that has been made in Asian countries and that more and more of the population is “shunning shark fin consumption” all the time.

Still, they contend there are 80 countries throughout the world partaking in the trade of shark products. While shark-finning is illegal in American waters, the U.S. still allows shark products to be imported into the country. Things get complicated when legally imported fins get mixed up with those obtained illegally in U.S. waters—quite a mixed message.

As the U.S. is part of the World Trade Organization, officials are unable to refuse entry of shark fin products, usually from countries that have no regulations, because the U.S. still exports those products. The group emphasizes the need for an outright ban on shark fins in the U.S. and believes SFTEA will be a major step in the right direction for global shark populations.

Read the full document here (PDF).

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