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As many as 73 million sharks are killed annually mainly for their fins. (Photo: PEW)

Bill passes to ban shark finning and feeding

Wednesday, March 02, 2011, 03:30 (GMT + 9)

A bill prohibiting both the finning and feeding of sharks recently passed unanimously in the 31 Guam Legislature. The bill would ban the possession, selling, trading or distribution of shark fins and ray parts on Guam.

Bill 44 was introduced by Vice Speaker BJ Cruz and co-sponsored by Senator Rory Respicio. The law is akin to Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo’s freshly passed federal legislation.

The Pew Environment Group has congratulated Guam and other Pacific Island nations for their measures to protect sharks.

"More and more, we see the islands of the Pacific stand tall against commercial fishing fleets that are depleting shark populations," noted Matt Rand, director of Global Shark Conservation for the Pew Environment Group.

"Pacific island leadership is helping these fish, threatened by the fin trade, to keep their place as apex predators in the ocean food chain. Guam, a major fishing hub, now joins other Pacific Ocean voices in support of shark conservation," he continued.

In January, US President Barack Obama signed HR 81, the Shark Conservation Act of 2010, which prohibits finning at sea and the possession, transfer or landing of fins not naturally attached to the shark’s carcass.

Pew said that as many as 73 million sharks are killed annually mainly for their fins, which are used in what is considered an Asian delicacy: shark fin soup. Further, 30 per cent of shark species are threatened or near-threatened with extinction.

Some members of Guam’s fishing community argued that feeding sharks could endanger fishers and successfully pushed for a prohibition the practice as an amendment to Bill 44.

Moreover, the bill allows local law enforcement to apply the federal statute by making it illegal to possess, sell, offer for sale, take, purchase, barter, transport, export, import, trade or distribute imported shark fins and ray parts, reports Marianas Variety.

The bill also gives restaurants possessing imported shark fins 180 days to deplete their stock.

The law makes possession of shark fins and ray parts a felony but offers exemptions for those possessing shark fins or ray parts for "subsistence and traditional and cultural" reasons.

Additionally, the Pacific island nation of Palau in September 2009 declared its waters a shark sanctuary by banning the commercial fishing of sharks. And early last year, the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean, and Honduras also made similar moves.

Related articles:

- Palau and Honduras urge the world to protect sharks 

- EC moves to eradicate shark finning 


By Natalia Real


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