Why Ban Shark Finning in Hawai`i?
International Guidelines relating to sharks call for:
Those Opposed to a Ban on Shark Finning want you to believe:
Shark Finning is an Economic Boom for Hawai`i.........
The Lacey Act would not prevent the transhipment of shark fins by foreign vessels.........
That The Federal Government has jurisdiction..........
According to available statistics, shark finning in Hawai`i has increased 22 times in the last 6 years and according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) not only should the waste of sharks be stopped, but the reduction of sharks in the ocean environment can cause an imbalance among other species that they help keep healthy. There is also cause for concern over the dramatic rise in the killing of sharks in the Pacific as again according to the FAO, commercial shark fisheries have exhibited a boom/bust cycle of over-harvest and decline where the fishery invariably ends with a abrupt and resounding crash.
The Scientific data is in and shark finning is a bad practice by international standards. Why anyone would support an illegal and obviously destructive practice is to put it simply, stupid! The Westpac Council has mis-led the Legislature as their study will not be completed in June as it is only in its infancy and they are month s or years away from any management plan. In fact, the scientific agency doing the study for Westpac supports this Bill (see attached NMFS letter). A vote in opposition to this Bill is a vote to legitimize a black market and illegal activity in the sale and landing of shark fins.
Recent National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) statistics clearly show that 86% of the sharks that are landed by Longline vessels her e in Hawai`i are caught alive and of the 819 that were sampled, 743 were finned and thrown back into the water. Recently 11 tons or 22 shark fins were found at Honolulu Harbor. These fins were landed illegally by a Honolulu based longliner who received the fins from foreign longliners outside of our EEZ. The State will never see any revenue from the sale of these fins and these 22,000 pounds of fins represented the death of approximately 100,000 sharks. Worldwide 1.66 BILLION Pounds of sharks are landed every year with 572 million pounds being landed in the Pacific. This practice is analogous to the Buffalo hunters. Back then buffalo were slaughtered for nothing more than their tongues and hides and the carcasses were left to rot. They claimed they would never have an impact, but low and behold, the day came when all the buffalo were gone.
Some have suggested that Shark Finning be allowed because it restricts interstate trade. The Lacey Act clearly defines this as not the case. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, this Bill is not restricting the landing of sharks, but rather the conditions in which they are landed. It has further been suggested that the use of Bonded Warehouses be permitted, however, according to Gordon Trimble at the Department of Business and Economic Development, the bonding of items in violation of State or Federal rules is prohibited in the foreign trade zones as well as all ports of entry. It is a question of the article being landed on U.S. soil rather than the point of destination according to U.S.Customs. They sited a case where a cargo plane containing a load of Mickey Mouse watches made in China and being shipped to Mexico landed in San Diego for re-fueling. The watches never left the foreign trade zone or bonded area, yet were confiscated for violating Federal patents.
From Texas to Maine there are both State and Federal regulations that prohibit the practice of shark finning so what we ask you to do today in HB 1706 is not breaking new ground. There is significant scientific evidence from countless numbers of reports from the United Nations to the University of Hawai`i to validate the intent of this Bill. For anyone to step up and oppose this Bill with no scientific support is an insult to any intelligent person. Some fishermen might oppose this Bill, but if you ask them the question, why are they going to support shark finning, the truth is money. It is an illegal activity, one that is being condoned by those opposing this Shark Finning.
A Shark Finning Ban doesn't impact fishermen, inter-state trade nor is it an economic benefit to the State of Hawai`i. All it does is simply say don't waste 99% of a shark carcass just to sell 1% of the shark or in this case it's fins. DBEDT will testify that there is a market for this shark, and even if there wasn't, donate it to the food bank or use it for animal or fish feed, but just don't waste it.
Many of the groups supporting a ban of shark finning in Hawai`i internationally have already taken action in other fisheries to boycott swordfish on the East Coast for instance and the market has virtually collapsed for swordfish. Do we want these groups to target Hawai`i next and Boycott Hawai`i Tourism and Seafood Products.
If the Hawai`i State Government just does what is scientifically sound and what the scientific data says to do, you have done the right thing. It's all very simple. Don't let people confuse the issue. That's the only way they win.
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