I came across an article the other day about $1 million worth of shark fins being seized by authorities in Florida. I was utterly appalled to read that. Poachers, traffickers, and criminal organizations are driving threatened wildlife populations around the world closer to extinction. Horrifying cases of animal cruelty and exploitation, such as this one, unfortunately happen way too often.
Millions of sharks face one the cruelest practices of all, known ask shark finning. Shark finning is when a person catches a shark on a line and saws off all of the sharks’ fins with a knife. If the shark does not die from the stress or from bleeding out, it is then tossed back into the ocean where it is left to drown and suffocate.
And all this torture for a bowl of soup that literally has no taste.
Coincidentally, just today I introduced my ban to prohibit the sale, possession, and distribution of shark fins within the Commonwealth. As a peak predator, sharks maintain the balance of species required for a healthy ocean. Healthy populations of sharks also have a direct link to seafood sustainability, such as stocks of scallops and oysters along the East Coast, which impacts food availability for local businesses and markets. Additionally, sharks are extremely valuable when they are alive due to ecotourism. Shark ecotourism produces $314 million in annual worldwide revenue and is expected to continue growing. There are more than 40 dive shops in operation within Pennsylvania alone.
Now, you may ask, “Why should I care about sharks? PA is a landlocked state." Although we may be a landlocked state, shark fins pass through our borders everyday via boats, planes and cars. We can directly impact the demand for shark fins by prohibiting the fruits of this cruel trade.
I hope you enjoy this month’s Blueprint. Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can be of assistance.