Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Guam now 3rd jurisdiction to outlaw shark fins

Photo: Tim Rock

WITH Governor Eddie Calvo’s signing of Shark Fin Bill 44 into Public Law 31-10, Guam now has the distinction of becoming the third jurisdiction in
Gov. Eddie Calvo shakes hands with Simon Sanchez High School students after the signing into law of the shark fin bill yesterday. Photo by Matt Weiss
the United States to enact a law that further protects the shark population.

The law prohibits the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins and ray parts on island. The process of shark finning involves landing a shark, removing its fins and throwing its carcass back into the water, often resulting in the shark’s slow and agonizing death.

Hawaii became the first jurisdiction to enact such a law, under the leadership of Hawaii State Sen. Clayton Hee. The CNMI, under the leadership of House of Representatives minority leader Diego Benavente, in January enacted a similar legislation.

Both Hee and Benavente made visits to Guam to lobby for a shark fin legislation to be introduced. While here, both also met with Variety to share their experience with introducing a shark fin legislation in their respective communities.

Both communicated their desire to prohibit shark fin trade in the entire Pacific region, making it difficult for Asian fisheries and fishing vessels to distribute and trade shark fins to other nations across the world.

Shark fin is typically used for shark fin soup, a widely popular Chinese delicacy.

International

Rob Stewart, producer of world renowned and multi-award winning documentary “Shark Water” also made a quick stop to Guam to rally and inspire Simon Sanchez High School, which bears the “shark” mascot, to encourage lawmakers and the community to support a measure that protects sharks.

Bill 44, sponsored by Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz, garnered widespread and international attention.

Communities and animal rights activists from all over the world rallied behind the bill.

Several notable news organizations and celebrities wrote about the bill’s enactment. In addition, a petition circulated online that accumulated tens of thousands of signatures, including those of celebrities, promoting Bill 44’s passage into law.

The movement to protect sharks emerged because of reports indicating that the once abundant shark population—which has been scientifically proven to be a significant asset in the world’s ecosystem—is being depleted at an abnormally rapid rate. Shark population around the world has decreased by about 90 percent in the last 30 years, according to scientific evidence.

Scientific studies show that 79 to 90 million sharks are slaughtered for their fins every year.

Printed in the Marianas Variety on Thursday, March 10, 2011.

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