WASHINGTON, April 17, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- At a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing today, John Polston, a fisherman and member of the Sustainable Shark Alliance (SSA), testified in support of legislation that would promote shark conservation by incentivizing other nations to meet the same high standards of sustainability as U.S. shark fishermen. 

In testimony before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans, Mr. Polston, owner of King’s Seafood in Port Orange, Florida, praised the Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act (SSFTA) as a “proactive bill that levels the playing field for American fishermen.” The bipartisan legislation, introduced last month by Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) and a group of six Democrats and Republicans, would create a formal and transparent certification program for countries importing shark products into the United States. Nations would be required to prove that they have an effective prohibition on shark finning, and management policies comparable to those in the United States.

“The SSFTA creates an incentive for other nations to end shark finning and meet the same high standards for marine conservation to which the United States holds its fishermen,” Mr. Polston said. “This bill recognizes the sacrifices our fishermen have made, and continue to make, to rebuild domestic shark populations by leveling the playing field with our foreign competitors.”

Mr. Polston was joined in his support for the SSFTA by Dr. Robert Hueter, director of the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, who served as a scientific reviewer for the legislation.

“The SSFTA will give the American people an effective tool to say, ‘No longer will we allow the import and consumption of unsustainably fished shark and ray products on American soil. Our participation as consumers in this practice ends now,’” Dr. Hueter said. “The bill does this without punishing American fishers who are conducting legal and sustainable shark fishing, providing a model of responsible management and conservation for the rest of the world.”

Mr. Polston and Dr. Hueter also expressed their opposition to another shark bill discussed at the hearing, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA). This legislation would ban the domestic sale of all shark fins, including responsibly and sustainably caught American shark fins.

“This bill punishes me and others in the shark fishery by taking away an important income source, undoubtedly pushing some small businesses into unprofitability,” Mr. Polston said. “It is an insult to American fishermen who have been required to give so much for decades to create a sustainable fishery.”

Alan Risenhoover, director of NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Sustainable Fisheries, voiced similar criticisms of the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act.

“This bill does not meet its intent to improve the conservation and management of domestically harvested sharks,” Mr. Risenhoover said. “It prohibits the possession and sale of shark fins. This would hurt U.S. fishermen who currently harvest and sell sharks and shark fins in a sustainable manner under strict federal management.”

About the Sustainable Shark Alliance
The Sustainable Shark Alliance (SSA) is a coalition of shark fishermen and seafood dealers that advocates for sustainable U.S. shark fisheries and supports healthy shark populations. The SSA stands behind U.S. shark fisheries as global leaders in successful shark management and conservation. The SSA is a member of Saving Seafood’s National Coalition for Fishing Communities.

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Bob Vanasse
Saving Seafood
(202) 333-2628
bob@savingseafood.org