Tuesday, June 11, 2013

ACTION ALERT: Obama Administration Proposes a Step Backward in Shark Conservation

Is the United States a world leader in shark conservation? You may have thought so, but it recently proposed to backtrack on progress achieved over the past several years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is proposing a rule that, if approved as is, has the potential to overturn the shark protections passed by California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Washington state, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.


The Shark Conservation Act of 2010 closed loopholes in the previous U.S. shark finning law by requiring that sharks be landed at port with their fins naturally attached to their bodies. To further protect sharks, some states and territories passed additional legislation. In most locations, these measures ban the possession, sale, and trade of shark fins. Implementing the provisions of the Shark Conservation Act should not be used to overturn state laws that are more protective than federal law.

Regulations by the states and territories to protect sharks are not in conflict with federal law. The U.S. government should implement the Shark Conservation Act as intended, without undermining state conservation measures.

Want more information?

Here is the official announcement of the proposed rule.  You'll notice it is buried in page 25,685 of the Federal Register.  Discussion of the state laws begins on the second page.  The proposed regulations contain language that could undermine the state and territory shark fin trade bans.  Specifically, the Agency is claiming that the state and territory laws may interfere with achievement of the Magnuson-Stevens Act's purposes and objectives and therefore are preempted.  The deadline for comments was initially June 17, but it is expected to be extended until July 8.

We need thousands of our supporters from the 10 affected states and territories, as well as from around the world, to tell NOAA not to include text in the Shark Conservation Act implementing regulations that undermine the state and territory laws.

The Pew Charitable Trusts has set up an easy online comment form and will deliver your comments and signatures before the deadline.


This petition meets all the criteria from our blog How to Write an Effective Online Petition.  There is a specific ask (don't overturn the state and territory laws), it is targeted to the government official making the decision (NOAA), and it will be delivered.  We encourage you to sign to show your support.

However, if you would like to do more, we would like to hear from you.  Can you write a letter to your newspaper, especially if you live in one of the 10 affected states or territories?  Can you call a local reporter to see if they will write a story?  Do you want to write your own formal comment letter -- the most effective means of commenting on this issue?  Contact us at info@sharkdefenders.com and we will help you.
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