H.R. 81: Shark Conservation Act of 2009

H.R. 81

Shark Conservation Act of 2009

Sen. Bernard Sanders

March 2, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On March 2, 2009, H.R. 81 is being considered on the floor under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage.  This legislation was introduced by Delegate Bordallo (D-GU) on January 6, 2009.  The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which has taken no official action.


Bill Summary

H.R. 81 would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to identify nations whose fishing vessels have engaged in activities that directly target or accidentally catch sharks.  NOAA would be required to maintain a public list of each nation that had targeted sharks during fishing activities.  The list would also be required to include information regarding any regulatory measures being taken by each nation to conserve sharks. 

In addition, the bill would prohibit fisherman from removing any shark fins at sea, having a fin aboard a fishing vessel that is not attached to the carcass, or transferring a fin from one vessel to another unless it is naturally attached to a shark.



Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, NOAA works to rebuild overfished shark stocks.  To this end, the U.S. recently enacted a ban on shark finning that prohibits any person under U.S. jurisdiction from engaging in shark finning and possessing shark fins harvested on board a U.S. fishing vessel without the corresponding carcasses.  According to NOAA, the U.S. has participated in shark management meetings with Japan, Spain, Taiwan, the European Union, Canada, China, and Mexico.  While shark conservation efforts have been conducted in the past, NOAA contends that some vessels have engaged in the process of removing shark fins at sea and releasing the shark's carcass, thus avoiding restrictions on shark harvesting while still retrieving the valuable fin.  H.R. 81 would tighten laws regarding shark conservation by requiring NOAA to publicly identify any nation whose fishing vessels are actively engaged in fishing activities that target sharks and prohibiting the removal of shark fins at sea. 

The House considered identical legislation (H.R. 5741) in the 110th Congress.  The bill passed the House by unanimous consent on July 30, 2007.  According to a CBO score for H.R. 5741, the bill would impose a private sector mandate by requiring shark fins on fishing vessels to be naturally attached to shark carcasses.  CBO estimated that the mandate would fall below the $139 million threshold established by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) for private sector mandates.  In addition, CBO estimated that H.R. 5741 would cost $1 million annually for NOAA to expand their existing fishing reports.



A CBO score for H.R. 81 was not available at press time.  However, a CBO score for H.R. 5741 (an identical bill considered in the 110th Congress) estimated that H.R. 5741 would cost $1 million annually for NOAA to expand their existing fishing reports