In a new bill that has been introduced in Hawaii, lawmakers are attempting to create one of the strongest shark protection laws in US history.
Senate Bill 489 would make it illegal to capture, take, abuse or kill sharks and manta rays in waters off the coast if Hawaii. With support from the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Humane Society and many other environmental groups, the bill has quickly gathered popularity.
If passed, violators of the law would face fines of $500 for a first offense and $10,000 for a third offense. As a first of its kind law, it is extremely important in not only protecting sharks but also the relevance of what it means as it may open up the door for other US states to adopt similar laws.
It is also important to note that there will be exceptions to the law which would include research, cultural practices and public safety.
With sharks being the apex predators of the sea, their importance to a healthy and balanced eco-system cannot be overstated. Sharks are at the top of the food chain in virtually every part of every ocean. In that role, they keep populations of other fish healthy and in proper proportion for their ecosystem. Researchers estimate than more than 100 million sharks are being killed every year with a majority of deaths coming from the shark finning industry and bycatch.
The bill was introduced by Senator Mike Gabbard, chair of the Senate Agriculture and Environment Committee, and state Representative Nicole Lowen, chair of the House Environmental Protection and Energy Committee.
This would add to Hawaii’s reputation of being a leader in creating laws that protect sharks as they were the first state in the US to ban the sale of shark fins or fin products.
You can help support this bill by signing a petition or if you do live in Hawaii, contact your representatives and let me them know that you want to see this passed!