Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Shark Conservation Act Rule Notable Comments

Thanks for your support!
The deadline to submit comments on the proposed rule that could overturn 11 state and territorial shark fin trade bans passed on July 31, 2013.  All of your comments are posted on the Federal Register.  Our favorite comments from prominent leaders in shark conservation are posted below.  Thank you for your support and we look forward to a positive outcome.
Ten U.S. senators led by Senator Maria Cantwell wrote, “There are a growing number of state and territorial statutes that are designed to address shark finning by reducing demand for shark fin products. These statutes are not a conflict of interest, and are well within the jurisdiction and authority of the States to regulate.”

Sixty two members of the U.S. House of Representatives led by Representative Jared Huffman and Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, sponsor of the Shark Conservation Act of 2010, wrote, “If we are to address the problem of shark finning head on, we must allow state and territorial statutes to complement the federal regulations and further the U.S. leadership in global shark conservation.”

Governor Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii issued a statement, “We must preserve the strong position the Hawaii State Legislature took in May 2010 when Hawaii become the first state in the nation to make it illegal to possess, sell or distribute shark fins in the state. This model legislation symbolizes Hawaii’s concern for the welfare of all creatures. We oppose federal pre-emption of the Hawaii law. Our law is working as intended. We have educated fishers and restaurants, and they are complying.”

Governor Iloy Inos of the Northern Mariana Islands wrote, “The Northern Mariana Islands enacted CNMI Public Law 17-27 after considerable public debate and input in an effort to ban the possession, sale, and trade of shark fins. Careful research, public input, and legal review went into making sure that our law met the unique needs of our jurisdiction.”

The Association of Pacific Island Legislatures (APIL) passed a resolution “Calling on Pacific Island nations to support the creation of a Pacific Islands Regional Shark Sanctuary and opposing the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposal to undermine the progress in shark conservation made by Pacific Island jurisdictions.” APIL is made up of 12 states, territories, and countries in the western and central Pacific Ocean, including Hawaii, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.

Senator Clayton Hee, sponsor of Hawaii law, wrote, “Hawai’I was the first state to enact legislation prohibiting the possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins and shark fin products. While we understand that the Service is issuing this proposed rule in an effort to implement the Shark Conservation Act, as a sponsor of the Hawai’I law, I am very concerned with the agency’s statements as to preemption of state shark fin laws.”

30 senators and assemblymembers of the California Legislature led by Assemblymember Paul Fong, sponsor of the California law, wrote, “The enactment of California’s law is significant. The majority of the processed shark fin imports, as opposed to domestic shark landings, enter the U.S. through California. The U.S. is the largest market for processed shark fins and fin products outside of Asia, and the biggest market within the U.S. is in California.”

Vice Speaker BJ Cruz, sponsor of Guam law, wrote, “The intent of the Shark Conservation act of 2010 is to protect sharks. Any rules to implement the federal law that result in overturning more restrictive state or territorial laws could put already stressed shark populations at additional risk.”

Representative Diego Benavente, sponsor of the Northern Mariana Islands law, wrote, “State bills, territory bills, and statutes that address their markets for shark fins play an important role in global shark conservation. Therefore, states and territories should have the prerogative to close off their markets to the cruel practice (of shark overfishing).”

13 members of the Hawaii House of Representatives led by Representative Jessica Woolly, wrote, “Hawaii is proud to be a global shark conservation leader. We strongly urge NOAA not to adopt an unprecedented and strained interpretation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to suggest that there can be no regulation of any sale of fish products just because some of the fish from which the products were obtained were lawfully caught in U.S. water, which is an interpretation that will only undermine the shark protection goals of federal Shark Conservation Act on which the proposed rule is based.”

14 senators and delegates of the Maryland Legislature led by Delegate Eric Luedtke and Senator Brian Frosh, sponsors of the Maryland law, wrote, “Maryland is well within its Constitutional rights to enact legislation of this kind. Maryland should be permitted to restrict the sale of shark fins.”

Oregon Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum wrote, “There is no literal inconsistency between Oregon’s law and the proposed rule implementing the SCA. The proposed NMFS rule regulates shark finning at sea in the EEZ, which is a fisheries practice. The Oregon shark fin statutes prohibit any shark fins (other than those of the spiny dogfish) from being possessed, sold, trade or distributed in Oregon unless authorized by a permit. Compliance with both laws simultaneously is achievable. Thus, there is no inconsistency between the terms of the proposed NMFS rule and Oregon’s shark fin statutes.”

Chairperson William J. Aila, Jr. of the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources wrote, “Hawaii law is specifically directed at the practice of shark finning. Current law does not prohibit the harvest and trade in shark meat for food. From the State’s perspective, Hawaii law addresses the practice of shark finning and allows for the sale of harvested sharks. In these two respects, Hawaii law is consistent with the SCA.”

Director Charlton H. Bonham of the State of California Department of Fish and Wildlife wrote, “Our Department believes the language in this notice creates an opportunity for collaborative dialogue on fisheries management to define how to implement the state and federal conservation laws in a harmonized way. Compliance with the California law enacted in 2011 would have no effect on compliance with these federal regulations, which predominantly regulate difference activities.”

Deputy Bureau Chief Monica Wagner of the State of New York Office of the Attorney General Environmental Protection Bureau wrote, “New York is concerned that addressing preemption as NMFS does unnecessarily prejudges that question without the benefit of the concrete factual setting that a state law enforcement proceeding would provide. In the absence of some compelling reason – which NMFS has not identified – for the rule and preamble to discuss preemption, we believe that the relationship between the federal government and the States would be better and more respectfully served by removing any discussion of preemption from the rule and preamble.”

State of Oregon Office of Governor John Kitzhaber Natural Resources Policy Advisor Gabriela Goldfarb wrote, “We believe that Oregon’s law meets MSA purposes and objectives, including promoting commercial fishing under sound conservation and management principles, and that it is not preempted by the proposed rule.”

The Pew Charitable Trusts, Humane Society of the United States, Oceana, and 30 other concerned organizations wrote, “States and territories should not be forced to permit the operation of in-state markets for detached fins and fin products that conflict with the values of their citizenry and their legitimate state interests, and disregard the results of lengthy, democratic and transparent legislative processes.”

Thirty scientists including Boris Worm, Ph.D., Barbara A. Block, Ph.D, and Samuel H. Gruber, Ph.D. wrote, “As marine biologists and shark experts we know first-hand the plight of sharks world-wide. While the SCA plays an important role in shark conservation by addressing the landing and possession of sharks and shark fins caught in U.S. waters, we scientists recognize this is not enough.”

Nick Silverstein, an 8-year-old shark activist in New York City wrote, “Please do not overturn the state and territory laws protecting sharks. The Shark Conservation Act of 2010 was passed to protect sharks from humans. Please keep it that way.

Twelve Shark Attack Survivors for Shark Conservation including Debbie Salamone wrote, “As shark attack survivors, we are uniquely qualified and feel a personal responsibility to speak up for these animals. We want our tragedies to result in a greater good. And we ask that our government stand behind us and do what’s right for shark conservation.” 

The Diving Equipment & Marketing Association (DEMA), an international organization with more than 1,300 members that is dedicated to the promotion and growth of the recreational scuba diving and snorkeling industry, wrote, “DEMA supports the ability of states to determine their own regulations with regard to the possession, landing, transfer or sale of sharks or shark fins regardless of the point of harvest. While we applaud the federal government's attempt to prohibit the practice of ‘shark finning,’ we do not believe it is appropriate for the federal government to preempt choice and extent of the state's regulation.”

According to the World Wildlife Fund and TRAFFIC North America, “The Shark Conservation Act of 2010 (SCA), which amended the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), to close loopholes in the ratio ban by mandating that sharks must be landed with their fins naturally attached to their bodies… was a significant achievement in providing strong conservation measures for sharks…. In order to continue this strong leadership and address the conservation problems associated with shark-finning, states and territories should be allowed to complement the federal ban on finning in U.S. waters.”

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals wrote, “U.S. states and territories are increasingly recognizing the importance of decreasing consumer demand as a means to improving global shark conservation. California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Illinois, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Marianna Islands, and, most recently, Maryland, Delaware, and New York, have all passed laws prohibiting the possession, sale, offering for sale, or distribution of shark fins. These laws have been backed by a wide coalition of environmental, shark conservation, and animal welfare organizations, including the ASPCA. If states are unable to cut off the market for fins, our nation’s role in global shark conservation efforts will be severely compromised.”
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