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Help Prevent Backsliding in US Finning Policy

Mar. 26/13

Just a few days remain in the public comment period for an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) proposal to weaken the coast-wide ban on finning (slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea). Project AWARE and Shark Advocates International need your help to stop changes that would provide wiggle room for finning smoothhounds and other sharks, and set a terrible policy precedent.

What’s at Risk

The ASMFC is proposing changes that apply to smoothhound sharks, specifically Mustelus canis. Smoothhounds are the only US Atlantic sharks that are subject to targeted commercial fisheries without quotas. Smoothhound landings have been on the rise in recent years, yet, there have been no assessments of population status or sustainable catch.

Allowing year-round smoothhound shark fin removal under the world’s most lenient fin-to-carcass ratio would hamper enforcement and create room for fishermen to fin smoothhound sharks without detection. Other coastal sharks as well as juveniles of depleted coastal shark species could also be at risk for undetected finning and unrecorded mortality because of these loopholes.

In addition, relaxing a state finning ban jeopardizes the US reputation and goals as an international champion of the fins-naturally-attached method. The US has supported the end of complicated ratios in the EU and elsewhere, and has proposed a ban on at-sea shark fin removal at international fisheries bodies.

The proposed changes represent a huge step backwards in finning policy at a time when the rest of the world is moving toward the clear best practice for finning ban enforcement: requiring that all shark fins stay naturally attached to shark bodies.

Take Action: Write to the ASMFC by 5:00pm EST March 28th to voice your support for moving forward rather than backward in the prevention of shark finning. Send your email to: Marin Hawk, ASMFC at Including your personal perspective will increase the impact of your comment.

The ASMFC is scheduled to take final action on these measures during the week of May 20th. Thank you for your help!


For your information, here is

For your information, here is the reply I got from AFMSC when I emailed concerning this matter:

Thank you for your interest in coastal sharks. The Interstate FMP prohibits the finning of all coastal sharks. Finning is defined as the removal of the fin while discarding the carcass back into the ocean. Two potential ways to manage sharks while prohibiting finning are to require fins to remain naturally attached or implement a fin-to-carcass ratio. Fin-to-carcass ratios are intended to allow processing of sharks at sea, but not allowing the wasteful discarding of the shark carcass. Smooth dogfish must be processed at sea in order to prevent the meat from spoiling.

Draft Addendum II proposes a fin-to-carcass ratio management program for smoothhound sharks. The total weight of the fins cannot exceed 12% of the total weight of the carcasses on board. This is consistent with the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 which was approved by Congress.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at

3 years ago

Thank you so much dartaignan

Thank you so much dartaignan for responding to our action alert and for sharing the ASMFC's response. For an interesting discussion on the topic, please see posts and comments from our friends and colleagues @Southern Friend Science

3 years ago

Live and let livE. This has

Live and let livE. This has to stop surely!

3 years ago