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Finning May Be “Fin-ished”
By Joe Tepper, December 22, 2010 @ 01:30 AM (EST)
Source: Washington Post

With Congress approving a landmark bill to prevent shark finning off of the west coast just in time for Christmas, it looks like sharks may have made Santa's nice list.

Authored by Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the bill will require any vessel to land sharks with their fins attached, while also prohibiting non-fishing vessels from transporting fins without the accompanying carcasses.

"Shark finning has fueled massive population declines and irreversible disruption of our oceans," explains Kerry in a press statement. "Finally we've come through with a tough approach to tackle this serious threat to our marine life."

Finning practices have long been prohibited off of the Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, while the recent increase in demand for the delicacy in Chinese markets has continued to fuel the shark fin trade in the Pacific: a region alone responsible for 1.2 million pounds of shark fins in 2009 according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service.

The first incarnation of the bill was blocked on September 29 by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who feared that the proposal would be too costly for taxpayers.

"Some things are just worth waiting for," said Michael Hirshfield, chief scientist for the advocacy group Oceana, alluding to the failure of the first bill. "Now we can all be a little less afraid for sharks."

Lawmakers and lawyers are often compared to sharks with lexicons such as “blood in the water.” While the shark's hunting senses have been refined over the last 300 hundred million years, it is perhaps their resilience in the face of finning pressures of the last half-century that is to be admired most. It would seem that sharks of Capital Hill have found success in their own breed of resilience: the bill only awaits President Obama's signature.



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