Victory for Sharks in Connecticut

Yesterday was a momentous day in Hartford, Connecticut.

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

Receiving a Proclamation of support from the Governor of Connecticut was great but it was much more rewarding to have had the opportunity to address the Connecticut Legislature in defense of the Bill initiated by Representative David Michel to ban shark finning in the state. (And yes, fishermen in Connecticut are engaged in finning shark – until yesterday.

The Bill passed the House of Representatives and will now go to the Democratically controlled Senate where it will go on to the desk of the Governor, and from my meeting with Governor Edward Miner Lamont Jr. it is a certainty that he will sign it and it will be the law.

In my address to the Legislature I spoke about the importance of sharks to marine eco-systems and the fact that we are driving many species towards extinction. I also noted that if Texas could pass the a bill banning shark fins that surely Connecticut could join the 13 other states that have passed laws to ban shark finning.

The Bill passed in the House 110 to 28. 13 Abstentions. All the Democrat Representatives voted in favor of the Bill with only the Republicans opposing, although a couple of Republican Representatives did vote in favor.

There was a hilarious moment as the votes were being tallied with the Speaker of the House using his cell phone to fill the chamber with the ominous sounds from the movie “Jaws'” and after the vote, the screen presented a clip of a shark swimming with the lyrics of “Baby Shark.”

Message from Connecticut State Representative David Michel

Dear Neighbor,

I am excited to announce that today the House of Representatives voted to pass my first bill, HB 5251, which prohibits the trade and sale of shark fins.

Under the bill, violators will be charged with a class C misdemeanor.

We introduced this bill to protect vulnerable populations of shark, which have been declining due to overfishing of our oceans, pollution, and to further discourage shark finning.

This process, popular across the globe, involves removing fins from captured sharks and discarding the body back into the ocean. When the fin is removed, the shark is thrown back into the ocean, and dies from suffocation or blood loss.

By penalizing the shark fin sale and trade, we hope to reduce the demand for shark fins so that we may save this unique marine species.

If adopted, Connecticut would join 13 states, including New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and three U.S. territories in enacting legislation prohibiting the shark fin trade.

Humans kill an estimated 100 million sharks annually, and the shark fin trade is one of the biggest motivators, and because of their low reproductive rates, approximately a quarter of all shark species are threatened with extinction.

I was also honored to join Captain Paul Watson, world-renowned environmental activist, co-Founder of Greenpeace, Founder, President and Executive Director of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, to discuss the role of oceans as climate regulators and what humans must change to restore balance to destabilized ecosystems.

“The Ocean is the primary life support system for the planet. The phytoplankton within produces the oxygen we breathe, it provides food, it cleans and recycles our water and it regulates climate,” said Watson. “Winter is coming, and it’s going to be very warm if we don’t act now!”

The oceans are the Earth’s largest climate regulators and the biggest sustainer of life, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and in turn producing about 50 percent of the world’s oxygen via phytoplankton. In addition to climate regulation, over 3 million people globally depend on biodiverse oceans and coastal habitats for health and wellbeing.

Without protecting the oceans, life will not thrive, and already, the sixth massive wave of extinction is underway with about 1 million plant and animal species at risk of extinction in the coming decades. The United Nations reports that the rate of species extinctions is rapidly accelerating, and “eroding the very foundations of our economies.”

Monumental change at the local, national and global levels is necessary to reverse the course of human destruction to aquatic, coastal and terrestrial ecosystems.

Every industry must partner to reorganize current systems and modes of operating to reverse climate change, and restore the health of all ecosystems. I am proud of the steps our state is taking to address it.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me at the Capitol at 860-240-8585 or email me at David.Michel@cga.ct.gov. Don’t forget to like my Official Facebook Page for news and legislative updates!

Sincerely,

David Michel
State Representative

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