Well, more bipartisan cooperation this week, which after almost 2 full years of bickering is a bit refreshing. Especially when it comes to a fisheries related issue – shark finning. Yesterday, the bill went through the Senate, and this morning, passed through the House. Now all Big-O has to do is sign the thing into law. Although some measures of protecting sharks have been in place for some time, shark finning was popular since the fins fetch considerably more dollars than other shark meat. This practice involves catching sharks, cutting off their fins and throwing the finless fish back overboard. I guess this is in an attempt to maximize landings of valuable meat, as I assume catch quotas are on a poundage basis. Now, all sharks landed have to be kept whole. Additionally, other vessels cannot transport fins. Not knowing much about the shark fin trade, my guess is that most shark people will see this as good news. Of course, there is always exceptions, and a smooth dogfish fishery will be allowed to continue finning practices, but such is the cost of compromise in getting enough support for the bill to pass. Hopefully this is all a step in the right direction. WhySharksMatter over at Southern Fried Science blogged about it today, so check it out. Also, to learn more about shark finning, check out this post from Ya Like Dags from last month.
As a side note, Dr. Demian Chapman over at The Institute for Ocean Conservation Science uses genetic tools to identify shark fins in order to see if illegal species are being traded. Pretty interesting stuff, which was recently highlighted in Popular Science. A blogged about a lecture of his which I attended back in October, and also wrote this piece for the school website (albeit with some serious edits by my supervisor).