Oceana reported today that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) filed new rules requiring federal shark fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico to land sharks with their fins still naturally attached.
Elizabeth Griffin, marine wildlife scientist at Oceana, is quoted: "The new rules are a milestone for U.S. shark conservation. The fins-attached rule in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico sets a good precedent for shark fisheries in the rest of the world."
The previous rules, according to Oceana, required fins and shark carcasses to be brought back to dock in a specific ratio, which still allowed shark fins to be cut off at sea.
Shark fins can be lucrative in places such as China, where shark fin soup is considered a delicacy.
But when fishermen cut off the fins from a live shark and dump the body back into the sea, the shark is doomed to a cruel fate; it bleeds to death or drowns.
The movie Sharkwater chronicles the rise in shark finning, and explains - in amazing footage - how the practice is depleting our waters of sharks, which are a vital component to ocean health. The film also debunks myths about sharks (attacks are actually rare) and shows the incredible efforts of producer Rob Stewart and conservationist legend Paul Watson to prevent shark poaching.
For now, the benefits of these new regulations are clear, but Oceana worries that the rules do not go far enough in protecting other large coastal shark species, such as porbeagle and great hammerhead sharks, when scientific evidence shows that their populations are in trouble.
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