The Simple Way You Can Help Protect Sharks from Inhumane Deaths This Shark Week

The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, if passed, would ban the purchase and sale of shark fins in the United States

Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias, near water surface, off coast of Gansbaai
Photo: Education Images/UIG/Getty

The finned stars of Shark Week need your help.

According to Oceana — an international organization dedicated to protecting the Earth’s oceans and their creatures — sharks, like rhinos, are being cruelly hunted for a small part of their bodies.

Shark finning, reports the organization, is the “wasteful” and “inhumane” practice of catching sharks, cutting off their fins and then throwing the rest of the animal, often still alive, back out to sea. Without their fins, these helpless sharks are left in the water to slowly bleed to death. This is all done for a few fins that are often only used in shark fin soup — a luxury meal in parts of Asia.

“Fins from as many as 73 million sharks end up in the global market every year, and more than 70 percent of the 14 most common shark species involved in the Hong Kong trade are considered at high or very high risk of extinction,” Oceana wrote in a press release on the danger shark finning poses to shark populations.

The act of shark finning is illegal in the United States, but the trading of shark fins is still legal in America. In an effort to stop sharks fins from being bought and sold in the U.S., the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (H.R. 737/S.877) has been introduced to Congress.

This bill, if passed into law, would ban the purchase and sale of shark fins in the United States, a move that would be a major hit to the shark fin market.

“By passing the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act to ban the U.S. fin trade, we would improve enforcement of the current U.S. finning ban, reinforce the status of the United States as a leader in shark conservation, and bring the world closer to ending the devastating trade in shark fins. This bill has widespread support from the conservation, business and coastal recreation industries, and is a sensible, non-partisan way for the U.S. to lead in shark conservation,” a Oceana spokesperson told PEOPLE.

According to the Oceana, this bill is one of the few pieces of bipartisan legislation right now, with 230 cosponsors, from both sides of the aisle, in Congress.

The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act has the votes to pass, now we just need to urge Congress to keep the bill moving forward and get the job done,” the Oceana spokesperson added.

Shark lovers outside of Capitol Hill can help this bill become law by calling their members of Congress and asking them to support the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act. Constituents can reach their representatives by calling the congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121. Those looking to help protect the stars of Shark Week, can also sign Oceana’s petition to Congress to pass this bill.

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