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Friday, August 5, 2011

Politics and Shark Week

Just about everything has a connection to politics -- even Shark Week. At the end of 2010, Congress passed H.R. 81, the International Fisheries Agreement Clarification Act. Title I of the bill was The Shark Conservation Act of 2010:
Title I - Shark Conservation Act of 2010
Shark Conservation Act of 2010 -
Section 102 -
Amends the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act to direct the Secretary of Commerce to urge international fishery management organizations to which the United States is a member to adopt shark conservation measures, including measures to prohibit removal any of the fins of a shark (including the tail) and discarding the shark carcass at sea. Requires the Secretary to seek to enter into international shark conservation agreements, including measures prohibiting fin removal and carcass disposal, that are comparable to those of the United States, taking into account different conditions. Directs the Secretary to include shark conservation measures when defining fishing activities that violate international fishery conservation and management agreements. Requires the Secretary to list a nation in the biennial report on international compliance if the nation's fishing vessels are or have been engaged in fishing activities that target or incidentally catch sharks in waters beyond their jurisdiction, and such nation has not adopted a regulatory program providing for shark conservation, including the fin removal and carcass disposal prohibitions. Requires such listing within one year after the enactment of this Act.
Section 103 -
Amends the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to revise provisions prohibiting the removal of shark fins to make it a prohibited act to: (1) remove any shark fin (including the tail) at sea; (2) have a fin aboard a fishing vessel unless the fin is naturally attached to the carcass; (3) transfer a fin from one vessel to another or receive a fin unless it is naturally attached; or (4) land a fin that is not naturally attached to a carcass or land a carcass without fins naturally attached. Revises the current rebuttable presumption provision concerning shark fins on fishing vessels to create a rebuttable presumption that, if any shark fin (including the tail) is aboard a non-fishing vessel without being naturally attached, the fin was transferred from a fishing vessel in violation.
The Shark Conservation Act was a project of Senator John Kerry, who teamed with the Discovery Channel to drum up support.

Kerry's 2004 rival for the presidency, George W. Bush, also got into the shark conservation business. At The New York Times, Andrew C. Revkin interviews Juliet Eilperin, author of Demon Fish.
Q. I was fascinated at first, but then not surprised, to read the details of how President George W. Bush, thanks to Jean-Michel Cousteau, produced what might be one of the biggest victories for sharks ever. How would you cast the importance of his decision on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument?

A. I think that decision was pivotal, in terms of setting a precedent that countries need to protect the ecologically rich, vast swaths of the sea from exploitation. Bush not only followed this up by creating large marine reserves in the Marianas Trench and the Line Islands, but other world leaders have followed suit in Britain’s Chagos Islands and Chile’s Sala y Gomez preserve. So his move has reverberated across the globe.