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November 21st, 2019
House Passes Collection of Bipartisan Conservation Bills, Including Ban on Trade in Shark Fins, Extension of Wetlands Conservation Program

Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today passed a collection of bipartisan conservation measures, including the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, a bill from Rep. Gregorio Sablan (D-CNMI) making it illegal to possess, buy, or sell shark fins or any product containing shark fins. The North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act from Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Actwhich  provides matching grants to wetlands conservation projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico – through fiscal year 2024.


The full list of bills passed today:


H.R. 182 – To extend the authorization for the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission (Rep. Keating – Natural Resources)
H.R. 255 – Big Bear Land Exchange Act, as amended (Rep. Cook – Natural Resources)
H.R. 263 – To rename the Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge as the Congressman Lester Wolff Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Rep. Suozzi – Natural Resources)
H.R. 737 – Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2019, as amended (Rep. Sablan – Natural Resources)
H.R. 925 – North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act (Rep. Thompson (CA) – Natural Resources)
H.R. 1088 – FIRST Act (Rep. Marshall – Natural Resources)
H.R. 1446 – Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp Reauthorization Act of 2019 (Rep. Clay – Natural Resources)
H.R. 1472 – To rename the Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice, Nebraska, as the Homestead National Historical Park (Rep. Smith (NE) – Natural Resources)
H.R. 1487 – Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Boundary Adjustment Study Act, as amended (Rep. Lieu – Natural Resources)


“I’m proud of the nine Natural Resources Committee bills that passed with overwhelming support in the House today,” said Chair Grijalva. “Each piece of legislation represents the tireless work of the sponsor and the hope of the communities who will be impacted. From banning selling shark fins to protecting wetlands, I will continue advancing Democratic priorities that make a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of our planet.”  


The Sablan bill has been a priority for conservation advocates for years. While it is illegal under U.S. law to cut fins from sharks, it is currently not illegal to buy or sell fins.


“After years of hard work, I am tremendously thankful that my colleagues in the House from both sides of the aisle voted to advance my bill, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act,” said  Sablan. “I want to thank my good friend Michael McCaul of Texas, who has worked tirelessly with me on the bill. The legislation is an effective, no-cost way to remove the United States from the harmful shark fin trade that contributes to the loss of up to 73 million sharks each year. A dozen states and three territories, including the Northern Marianas, already have a ban in their laws. Shark fin bans are also supported by numerous airlines and shipping companies, major corporations, and hundreds of U.S. businesses and organizations. However, the work is not over. The Senate must also act to pass this critical bill and get it to the President’s desk so we can finally get our country out of the devastating global shark fin trade.”


The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act enjoys broad support:


“Sharks have survived for millions of years – since before the dinosaurs – but their future is now in question. The demand for shark fins is decimating shark populations and the U.S. must now do its part to help protect them. Oceana applauds the House for passing this important legislation. Now it’s time for the Senate to do the same. This legislation is a bright spot of bipartisanship in Congress. Passing this bill into law will take the U.S. out of the fin trade and reduce the demand for fins. It’s time for the U.S. to once again be a leader in shark conservation. The U.S. needs a fin ban now.” – Whitney Webber, Oceana campaign director


“As apex species, sharks are invaluable contributors to their ecosystems—much more valuable alive than they are in a bowl of soup. We thank Representatives Sablan and McCaul for introducing this important piece of legislation. By passing the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, the U.S. House of Representatives has taken a significant step toward eliminating extinction of these remarkable creatures.” – Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund


“Sharks have existed for hundreds of millions of years on this planet, and yet these remarkable apex predators now face one of the biggest threats to their survival because of the demand for their fins. More than a quarter of shark species and their relatives are at risk of extinction. Passing legislation to clamp down on the global shark fin trade is essential if we are going to protect sharks and maintain functioning marine ecosystems. We are grateful to Representatives Sablan and McCaul for their steadfast leadership and urge the Senate to quickly pass the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act so that it can be signed into law.” – Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute


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