A guide to landing shark species with fins naturally attached. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-712
The practice of finning, defined as the removal of the fin or fins from a shark and discarding the remainder of the shark at sea, was first addressed in the United States of America (U.S.) in 1993. The 1993 Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Sharks of the Atlantic Ocean introduced the requirement that fishermen could only land shark fins and carcasses where the maximum weight of fins did not exceed 5 percent of the dressed carcass weights (NMFS, 1993). This 5 percent fin-to-carcass ratio applied to all managed shark species in the Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. In the 1999 FMP for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks, NMFS prohibited finning of all shark species, including those that were not otherwise managed, and required recreational shark fishermen to land all sharks whole (although the sharks could be eviscerated) (NMFS, 1999).
The Shark Finning Prohibition Act (H.R. 5461 (106th)) of 2000 amended the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1857(1)) to extend the prohibition of finning to the entire U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and U.S. flagged vessels in international waters. This Act also aimed to address shark finning at an international level by urging other governments to collect biological and trade data on sharks and shark products, and calling for international finning bans. As directed by the Shark Finning Prohibition Act (H.R. 5461 (106th)), the United States continues to work with countries from across the globe to encourage a fins-attached approach to shark fisheries. To help promote adoption of these regulations, this document provides details on the at-sea processing of sharks while maintaining their fins naturally attached.