25 April, 2012

The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education (COARE), applauds the Illinois Senate Standing Committee on Environment for passing a bill to end Illinois' contribution to the dire collapse of shark populations worldwide. If enacted, Illinois will join four Pacific states – California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington – and the U.S. territories of Guam and Northern Mariana Islands in similar actions to provide critical protection to sharks and preserve the health of the world's ocean ecosystems by banning the possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins.

House Bill 4119, sponsored by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) and Senator Antonio Muñoz (D-Chicago) was approved by the Senate Committee with a 7-1 vote. The bill now moves on to the full Senate for consideration.

"The Committee's decisive vote sends a clear message", said Christopher Chin, COARE's executive director. "The Committee's compelling approval reflects and punctuates the urgency of shark conservation."

Every year, up to 73 million sharks are killed, tens of millions for their fins alone. The fins are used for shark fin soup, a luxury dish sometimes served at Chinese weddings and banquets. This soup has grown in popularity, increasing consumer demand for shark fins and contributing to the decimation of shark populations worldwide. As a result of these fishing pressures, one-third of open ocean sharks are already threatened with extinction.

Animals at the top of the food chain, such as sharks, have few natural predators, so they are slow to mature, and have very few young. As a result, they are extremely sensitive to fishing pressures, and are slow to recover from overfishing. As sharks play a vital role in the oceans, their depletion could cause irreparable damage to marine ecosystems.

Christopher Chin
+1 510-495-7875