AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) - Texas could become the first Gulf Coast state to enact a ban, which protects shark species. Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year to supply the wasteful demand for shark fin soup. Shark populations can’t sustain current slaughter rates, according to The Humane Society of the United States.
The Texas House of Representatives passed H.B.852 to prohibit the sale, trade, purchase and transportation of shark fins in Texas. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-District 38, passed the House with a 87-42 vote.
“We are truly grateful for the outstanding leadership and dedication from the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Eddie Lucio,” said Katie Jarl, Texas state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “The members of the Texas Senate will hopefully agree with their counterparts that Texans should no longer contribute to the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning and swiftly pass this bill.”
If passed, Texas would become the first state in the Gulf Coast to crack down on the shark fin trade and the seventh state to pass similar laws protecting sharks. Legislation has been enacted in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon, Washington and Maryland as well as in the U.S. Pacific territories of Guam, American Samoa and the Marianna Islands.
Federal and state laws that prohibit shark finning are insufficient to address the U.S. market for shark fins, which is why state laws prohibiting sales are so crucial.
The majority of shark fin imports into the U.S. come from Hong Kong, which receives its supply of fins from at least 80 countries, most of which have lax and ineffective shark finning bans.
Shark finning involves cutting off the fins of sharks then throwing the shark back into the ocean, often while still alive, only to drown, starve or die a slow death due to predation from other animals. Some species of shark are on the brink of extinction due to the shark fin industry. Sharks are apex predators whose survival affects all other marine species and our oceans’ ecosystems. Unlike other fish species, sharks produce few pups, and thus, many species are endangered and/or threatened due to the fin trade.
Fins sold in Texas can come from sharks from unsustainable foreign fisheries or finned sharks.
In 2011, President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act, which closed critical loopholes in the federal law to improve enforcement. The law requires boats to land sharks with their fins still attached.
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