2011-01-27

Shark Savers Congratulates The Northern Mariana Islands For Shark Fin Law


Confiscated Shark Fin
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NEW YORK, NY, January 25, 2011, --/WORLD-WIRE/-- Shark Savers
(www.sharksavers.org
), an international shark conservation organization, is pleased to
congratulate the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)
for protecting dwindling shark populations by banning the shark fin
trade.
Governor Benigno R. Fitial signed the historic law today,
recognizing that “sharks are one of the top predators in the marine
food chain and play an important role in our ocean’s ecosystem.
Sharks have characteristics that make them more vulnerable to
overfishing than most fish.”

The law, House Bill No. 17-94, HD1, SD1, makes it “unlawful for
any person to possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute
shark fins in the CNMI”. The bill is similar to the landmark
legislation recently passed in the State of Hawaii. The CNMI joins
island nations and regions in taking strong actions to protect
sharks, including Palau, the Maldives, and Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

Witnessing the Governor’s signing of the bill today is the
Director of the award-winning filmSharkwater, Rob Stewart, who is an
Advisor to Shark Savers. Mr. Stewart said, “Protecting sharks with
this law is important to the CNMI, a Pacific Territory that is
dependent on the oceans. It was truly inspiring to see Governor
Fitial and the CNMI legislature taking this bold stand to see that
its sharks are not destroyed for the shark fin trade.”

Shark populations worldwide have plummeted in recent decades to
support demand for shark fin soup in Asia. Up to 73 million sharks
are killed annually for their fins, with some shark populations
declining by as much as 90%. Stopping the shark fin trade is a
critical means to stop the depletion of shark populations, as it
removes the incentive to land sharks for their fins and greatly
simplifies enforcement.

“One by one, Pacific Island communities like the CNMI are taking
steps to protect valuable shark species to ensure the health of their
precious marine environments”, said Michael Skoletsky, Executive
Director of Shark Savers. “Research suggests that preserving sharks
within an ocean ecosystem helps to maintain life and species balance
throughout the food chain.

The bill takes effect immediately, exempting subsistence fishing
with no trade and providing a 90-day grace period for restaurants.
Violation of the law results in fines between $5,000 and $30,000
and/or imprisonment for up to six (6) months on the first violation.

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