Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Conservation agency applauds Guam for shark legislation

Photo: Veronique Arnoldi
The Pew Environment Group has issued a press release applauding Guam and other Pacific islands for taking action to safeguard the lives of sharks.

"More and more, we see the islands of the Pacific stand tall against commercial fishing fleets that are depleting shark populations," said Matt Rand, director of Global Shark Conservation for the Pew Environment Group in the release.

"Pacific island leadership is helping these fish, threatened by the fin trade, to keep their place as apex predators in the ocean food chain. Guam, a major fishing hub, now joins other Pacific Ocean voices in support of shark conservation."

On Thursday, a bill banning both the finning and feeding of sharks passed unanimously in the 31 Guam Legislature.

If signed into law, Bill 44, introduced by Cruz and co-sponsored by Sen. Rory Respicio, will prohibit the possession, selling, trading or distribution of shark fins and ray parts on Guam.

The law is similar to recently passed federal legislation introduced by Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo.

Signed by President Obama in January, H.R. 81, or the Shark Conservation Act of 2010, prohibits the removal of fins at sea and the possession, transfer or landing of fins not naturally attached to the corresponding carcass.

According to the Pew Environment Group, up to 73 million sharks are killed every year primarily for their fins, which are valued for their use in shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy.

Thirty percent of the world's species are threatened or near-threatened with extinction, according to Pew.

In Bill 44, a prohibition on feeding sharks was added as an amendment at the behest of some members of the fishing community, who said the practice could endanger fishermen.

The law, which makes possession of shark fins and ray parts a felony, provides exemptions for those possessing shark fins or ray parts for "subsistence and traditional and cultural" purposes.

Published in the Pacific Daily News on February 28, 2011

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