By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — One of the cruelest forms of fishing has caught the interest of Maryland lawmakers.

Alex DeMetrick reports it’s a bill outlawing shark fins in the state.

When it comes to popular attractions at the National Aquarium, few species draw crowds like sharks do.

And while their teeth make their reputation, it’s their fins that put them at greatest risk. It’s a practice known as “finning.”

“In many cases, they actually catch the shark, cut off their fins and throw the animal back into the ocean to die. It’s really barbaric,” said John Racanelli, CEO National Aquarium.

Images of the shark fin trade fill websites devoted to stopping the fishery. It’s estimated as many as 100 million sharks a year are killed–most for their fins, which are used to make soup.

It’s not nutritious, but its cost makes it a status dish.

“What it’s done is cause the decline of a whole line of animals, a whole family of sharks,” said Racanelli.

So the National Aquarium is backing a bill in Annapolis:

“To ban the sale, possession and transfer of shark fins throughout the state, which effectively cuts out the market for shark fins,” he said.

If it becomes law, Maryland would be the first state on the East Coast to ban the shark fin trade. Not that there’s a lot of it, but every little bit helps.

“Sharks need friends too,” Racanelli said.

While finning is no longer an American practice, by joining similar bans in place along the West Coast, Maryland would help in the effort to shrink demand of a shrinking species.

Two versions of the shark fin ban have passed both the Maryland House and Senate, but must still be consolidated.


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