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Help Prevent Backsliding in US Finning Policy

Project AWARE News

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 comments@asmfc.org. 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!

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