Shark finning—cutting off a shark’s fins and throwing its body overboard to die—occurs because the value of fins outweighs that of shark meat. In 2005, Humane Society International began working with concerned organizations, local advocates and governments to combat shark finning. Today, Latin America has emerged as a leader in addressing this cruel and wasteful practice, with several countries in the region having adopted strong bans on shark finning.
In December 2006, a shark workshop was convened by the Costa Rican sea turtle and shark protection group PRETOMA and sponsored by HSI. Representatives from animal conservation organizations in El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador and the USA attended. Participants gave presentations on the key issues affecting sharks in their countries and discussed ways of ending the practice of shark finning.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the groups decided to form the Shark Coalition in order to increase the effectiveness of their work in both domestic and international forums. The coalition committed itself to working towards a global end to shark finning, and to pursuing protective measures for sharks both regionally and worldwide.
Since the formation of the coalition, “fins-attached” finning bans, which mandate that sharks be brought ashore with their fins naturally attached to their bodies, have been adopted in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Panama and the USA, while enforcement of the regulations in Costa Rica has been strengthened. As of December 2011, all Central American countries plus the Dominican Republic have now agreed by consensus to implement a regional ban on shark finning.
HSI and the coalition also work to increase protection for sharks within the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), at the UN General Assembly, and at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).