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The U.S. Congress is currently discussing the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act to eliminate shark fin trade at the federal level. This bill was introduced in 2017 and has been proceeding very slowly in Congress because of mixed reviews from the scientific community. Debate exists on whether shark conservation and management are effectively addressed with tightened trade controls for imported shark products or blanket bans that outright end U.S. participation in the shark fin trade. Here we contribute to this debate with a review and analysis of economic, nutritional, ethical, and legal arguments, as well as of the shark fisheries status and shark fin trade. We show that the United States has a limited commercial interest in shark fisheries and contributes to the shark fin trade mainly as a facilitator. A fin trade ban has few tangible economic drawbacks but would have a considerable conservation impact. While making all shark fisheries sustainable is the ultimate goal, in practice this objective is far from achievable everywhere in the world. Conversely, banning shark fin trade is an interim measure that nations like the United States can take with negligible cost and can truly impact the biggest driver of shark exploitation globally.
Ferretti, F., Jacoby, D. M. P., Pfleger, M. O., White, T. D., Dent, F., Micheli, F., … Block, B. A. (2020). Shark fin trade bans and sustainable shark fisheries. Conservation Letters, 13(3). https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12708