Freedom From Finning

The National Marine Fisheries Service has implemented new, tougher conservation measures that will aid authorities in enforcing the U.S. ban on shark finning (see “The War on Sharks,” Currents, November/December 2007). Sandbar, porbeagle and dusky shark populations in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico have been severely overfished; a recent article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune noted that commercial fisheries target sandbar sharks because their dorsal fins command high prices in the shark-fin trade. Dusky sharks are often caught as bycatch on lines set for sandbars. The new regulations, known as Amendment 2 to the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan, will impose an 80% cut in the commercial quota for sandbar sharks. Porbeagle catch has also been cut to a fraction of previous levels, with the majority of the quota allocated to the recreational fishery.

The most significant change in Amendment 2 is a new requirement that all sharks be landed with fins naturally attached. According to the Herald-Tribune article, previous rules “permitted fins to be removed from the carcass before landing as long as they fit a fins-to-carcass ratio that was imprecise and open to abuse.”