Great Barracuda - Sphyraena barracuda

Great Barracuda - Sphyraena barracuda

February 26, 2011

Half Ton of Shark Fins were Bound for NYC

Photo credit: NOAA

Back on December 21, 2010, the Senate passed the Shark Conservation Act of 2009. It was passed by the House the next day. President Obama signed it into law on January 4, 2011.

But, yesterday is was reported by the New York Times that nearly a half ton of Hammerhead shark fins were siezed in Panama while en route to New York. That's New York City, New York USA. What's wrong with this picture? Shark fins being IMPORTED to New York?

One ton equals 2000 pounds. One half ton equals 1000 pounds. According to Greenpeace: The World Conservation Union (IUCN) estimate shark fins comprise, on average, 2 % of body weight. This means one would expect 20kg (44 lb) of shark fin for every ton of shark carcass. So, 1000 pounds of fin equals approximately 22,727 pounds of carcass. There is no way to translate this number into numbers of carcasses.

Here's my question: If it is US law and is intended to in part "to urge international fishery management organizations to which the United States is a member to adopt shark conservation measures", then why were those sharks killed? Will the people who were supposed to receive this shipment be taken to trial? Would the fins have wound up somewhere else? What happens to the middlemen? Apparently, the law has failed to impress upon shark-finners in Ecuador, or restraunteurs in New York. So what will it take to extract this country from such a horrific enterprise?

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