Import and Export Issue





Fins can change hands multiple times; they are moved from one country to another, imported and exported, then re-imported once processed. They are loaded and reloaded from fishing vessels out at sea to larger transportation vessels, from ships to docks, either finned or still attached to a shark. They get moved from bags to container, from shipyards to transportation companies, to processing locations, and back again. Some shipments are labeled as shark fins, others are mixed in with other random seafood or bycatch. This is the reason why none of the export and import numbers add up and why authorities don't have a handle on what might be legal or illegal. There is no confusion when fin trade is not allowed across the board, no matter how they were obtained or where they came from.

There are discrepancies in the estimates of the number of shark fins that are actually entering and leaving the United States. 

  • According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), other countries reported exporting 1,012 metric tons of shark fins to the United States in 2007. However, that same year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) only reported 28.8 metric tons of shark fin imports.

  • In 2011, NOAA reported 38 metric tons of shark fin exports from the United States, yet according to the FAO, other countries reported importing 295 metric tons of shark fins from the United States.

It is clear that we can't tell the difference between domestic and imported fins. Only a full trade ban can ensure that we are not participating in the global trade of fins.

Laurel Irvine