Congress last week passed the Shark Conservation Act, which bans shark finning in U.S. waters.
The measure that cleared the Senate Tuesday will outlaw the common practice in which fishermen cut off the fins of a live shark and then dump it back into the water to die a slow death by asphyxiation, ENN reports. The fins are then frozen or dried and shipped to Asia, where they are in high demand for use in shark-fin soup, which is considered a delicacy.
The Shark Conservation Act was introduced by Reps. Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam, Eni Faleomavaega, D-American Samoa, and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass and will require all sharks caught in U.S. waters to be landed with their fins still attached. Regulations previously prohibited finning practices in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico and now also apply to the Pacific.
Environmental advocates hope that the new legislation will extend to international regulators.
“We’ve finally realized that sharks are worth more alive than dead,” Elizabeth Griffin Wilson, a marine scientist with at the conservation group Oceana, told AP. “While shark fins and other shark products are valuable, the role sharks play in the marine ecosystem is priceless.”