On June 11, the House Natural Resources Committee approved the Shark Conserva­tion Act of 2008. The bill attempts to curb the practice of shark finning by US-based fishing boats and limit trade with shark-finning fleets abroad.

Between 26 million and 73 million sharks are caught yearly, according to a 2006 study in Ecology Letters, a French science journal. The shark’s fins may be cut off and the carcass thrown overboard to make room for more valuable fins, which are used in dishes like shark fin soup, a delicacy throughout East Asia. Scientists say the targeting of sharks, along with sharks being incidental bycatch, have led to their dramatic decline. Some popula­tions are down by as much as 90 percent in the past 50 years. The nonprofit International Union for Conservation of Nature says that more than half of mid-ocean sharks are in danger of extinction.

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