Sharksavers reports that the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Senate has voted to outlaw the shark fin trade. The original bill was introduced by Representative Diego Tenorio Benavente into the CNMI House of Representatives, where it was approved on November 17th. The bill need to be reconciled and a slightly different version approved by the House before being signed into law by Governor Benigno R. Fitial.
The landmark bill recognizes sharks to be “an essential element of the ocean’s ecosystem” because of their role as apex predator of the sea. It seeks to stop the severe over-fishing of sharks that occurs worldwide to feed the demand for shark fin soup. The bill makes it “unlawful for any person to possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute shark fins in the CNMI”. The bill is similar to that recently passed in the State of Hawaii. If signed into law, the CNMI will join another Pacific island nation, Palau, which has also taken a legislative stance to protect sharks.