Jaws of Life: Developing International Shark Finning Regulations Through Lessons Learned from the International Whaling Commission

Author:Ingrid M. Gronstal Anderson
Position:J.D. Candidate, 2011
Pages:511-537
Jaws of Life: Developing International Shark Finning
Regulations Through Lessons Learned from the
International Whaling Commission
Ingrid M. Gronstal Anderson*
I. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................ 512
II. THE INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMMISSION ....................................... 514
A. History of the IWC ............................................................................ 514
B. Current Status of the IWC ............................................................... 515
III. CHALLENGES TO EFFECTIVE INTERNATIONAL REGULATION OF
MARINE ANIMAL RESOURCES ..................................................................... 518
A. Cultural Differences ......................................................................... 518
1. Whaling ..................................................................................... 518
2. Shark Finning ........................................................................... 520
B. Scientific Data Collection ................................................................ 521
1. Whaling ..................................................................................... 522
2. Shark Finning ........................................................................... 523
C. Environmental Issues ...................................................................... 524
1. Whaling ..................................................................................... 524
2. Shark Finning ........................................................................... 524
IV. POTENTIAL SHARK FISHING REGULATORY APPROACHES ..................... 525
A. Individual National Laws ............................................................... 525
1. United States Regulations ....................................................... 525
2. United Kingdom Regulations .................................................. 527
B. Current International Organizations ............................................. 528
1. CITES ........................................................................................ 528
2. Convention on Migratory Species ............................................ 529
3. Regional Fisheries Management Organizations .................... 530
* J.D. Candidate, 2011. I would like to thank my friends and family for supporting me
throughout the Note writing process, particularly my husband for his patience and my sister for
her professional expertise. I would also like to thank the Transnational Law & Contemporary
Problems staff for all of their help throughout the editing process.
512 TRANSNATIONAL LAW & CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS [Vol. 20:511
4. European Union ........................................................................ 532
C. A Proposal for a New International Commission for Shark
Regulation: The International Shark Fishing Commission .......... 533
1. Membership and Reservations ................................................ 533
2. Cultural Claims ........................................................................ 535
3. Scientific Data .......................................................................... 535
4. Environmental Concerns ......................................................... 536
5. Recommendations ..................................................................... 536
V. CONCLUSION .......................................................................................... 536
I. INTRODUCTION
Every summer the Discovery Channel airs a week-long programming
schedule devoted entirely to sharks.
1
―Shark Week‖ has been a staple of
Discovery Channel‘s summer season for over twenty years.
2
In addition to
programs that follow researchers o r feature dramatic reenactments of human
shark attack victims, the Discovery Channel airs ads that inform viewers
about the practice of commercial shark finning and encourage them to take
action to stop it.
3
For man y Americans, this may be the first time they learn
that humans present much more of a danger to sharks than sharks do to
humans.
In the last decade, shark finning has become an increasingly common
way for commercial fishermen to harvest fins for shark fin soup.
4
This soup is
an expensive delicacy in Asian countries, especially China, and a bowl can
often sell for over $100 in fine restaurants.
5
Because shark fins are much
more valuable than the rest of the shark‘s body, fishermen often discard
everything but the fins.
6
Sharks are often caught on long lines and brought
aboard a fishing vessel.
7
Once the sharks are onboard, fishermen cut off their
1
Shark Week, DISCOVERY CHANNEL, http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/shark-week/ (last visited May 16,
2011).
2
Mike Hale, Ah, That Jersey Shore: The Fish Are Really Biting, N.Y. TIMES, Aug. 1, 2009, at C1,
available at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/01/arts/television/01shark.html.
3
Jennifer Viegas, Shark Finning: Human Shark Cravings and the Price We Pay to Satisfy Them,
DISCOVERY CHANNEL, http://dsc.discovery.com/sharks/shark-finning.html (last visited May 16,
2011).
4
Lisa Ling, Shark Fin Soup Alters an Ecosystem, CNN (Dec. 15, 2008),
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/12/10/pip.shark.finning/index.html.
5
Id.
6
Id.

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