Tiburon Youth Starts Petition to United Nations to Ban Shark Finning

For Immediate Release

Contact David McGuire, 415 350-3790, seasteward@gmail.com

May 15, 2012

Tiburon CA

The town where the shark fin free movement began continues to inspire youth interested in protecting its namesake.
First inspired by local sharks, Thirteen year old Joshua Mattazza loves sharks and decided he wanted to do something to protect them.
“I learned that many sharks could be going extinct from shark finning. It’s a cruel and wasteful practice to kill sharks just for their fins. They die at the bottom of the ocean. We need to stop it.”

Shark finning is the practice of catching a shark, slicing off the valuable fins and discarding the less valuable shark over the side, dead or still living. The global demand for the luxury dish shark fin soup has generated a dramatic increase in killing sharks just for their fins.
The International Union for Concerned Scientists estimates that one third of open ocean sharks are threatened with extinction. Scientists estimate that tens of millions of sharks are killed each year to supply the shark fin trade.
It is widely recognized that shark populations cannot sustain overfishing at the current  rate, yet out of 193 member countries in the United Nations, less than 30 countries have laws against the practice of shark finning.
“It is a global phenomenon driven by increased affluence and a newly developed taste for shark fin soup by the middle class. Shark finning is like elephant ivory but it is occurring on every ocean.  Its an ocean gold rush for fins and shark populations cant stand it.” Said David McGuire, Director of Sea Stewards, a shark conservation non profit based near San Francisco.
“Im inspired to help the Tiburon youth in protecting sharks once again. We started with an official condemnation of shark finning and shark fin soup by the Town Council in 2006. We succeeded in California with a shark fin ban and are working in other states with our Shark Stewards program. We can limit the trade but we need to ban the practice of shark fining at the international level. Killing sharks for fins must stop.”

The United States has laws against killing sharks just for the fins and requires sharks to be landed with their fins attached. Most countries do not have finning laws at all.  Even the EU has finning laws but they allow the bodies to be landed with fins detached creating enforcement challenges and poaching.
Hawaii, Oregon, Washington have all passed shark fin trade laws and seven other states are considering trade bans.  “Limiting the trade and regulating the practice might just save sharks.” said McGuire. “But we need to do both now.”
Scientists have demonstrated that removing sharks from and can create a dramatic imbalance to the ocean, reducing the health of the ecosystem.
“We can eat a different kind of soup, one that doesnt hurt the oceans. We need to protect sharks now.”  Adds Mazzatta.
Supporters of the initiative can sign the Change.org petition and learn more at SharkStewards.org.