Obama signs Shark Conservation Act into law

Exemption for smooth dogfish remains a concern

On January 4th, President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act into law, significantly strengthening shark conservation both nationally and internationally. The Act, which was first introduced in the House by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU) and later in the Senate by Senator John Kerry (D-MA), passed both Houses of Congress on December 21st during the lame duck session.

Shark finning, the practice of cutting off a shark's fins and discarding the mutilated carcass at sea, has been banned in the United States since 2000. However, an unanticipated loophole allowed U.S. flagged vessels to skirt regulations by purchasing fins on the high seas from fishermen engaged in finning. The fins could then be brought back to the U.S. and sold for steep profits.

The Shark Conservation Act closes this loophole. In addition, the Act promotes international shark conservation efforts by allowing sanctions to be imposed on nations that have not implemented shark fishing regulations consistent with those placed on U.S. fishermen.