House Bill To Protect Hawaii's Sharks And Rays Passes Judiciary Commmitee

Shark conservationists Kayleigh Burns attempts to remove a rope and hook from a well known tiger shark nicknamed "Roxy" who has a broken jaw from another fishing incident years ago. Photo by Juan Oliphant of One Ocean Diving/WaterInspired

Sharks and rays in Hawaii state waters are one step closer to gaining further protection.

HONOLULU, HAWAII, February 27, 2019- House Bill 808 was passed unamended by the House Committee on Judiciary today. If successful, this bill will prohibit the killing, capture, or possession of sharks and rays in state waters. Marine conservationists and biologists from around the world have submitted testimony in favor of HB808. The bill is also strongly supported by local organizations and groups Keiko Conservation, Moana Ohana, One Ocean Conservation, Water Inspired, For The Fishes, Bali Sharks, Animal Rights Hawai'i, Friends Of Hanauma Bay, and the West Hawaiian Humane Society.

Although Hawaii was the first state to ban the possession and sale of shark fins, an increase in cruel and harmful activity towards the animals sparked the need for stronger regulations. Over the past few years, beachgoers have repeatedly found dead shark pups tossed in nearby bushes, a pile of nearly a hundred scalloped hammerhead pups dumped at Sand Island on Oahu, sharks hung from street signs to rot in the sun, and two roped sandbar sharks dragged up the beach and staked in the sand to suffocate in back to back incidents. Posts on social media have also revealed numerous images and videos of cruel actions towards the animals, including scalloped hammerhead pups being tied to drones to use as "live bait." Keiko Conservation co-founder Natalie Parra told legislators at a recent hearing that, "it's sad that we now know who did some of these things but nothing can be done to stop them, because it's not illegal."

Local marine biologist and shark conservationist Ocean Ramsey of One Ocean Diving and Water Inspired told The Guardian earlier this month that she hopes the law will be passed in Hawaii and inspire similar laws in other states, and, ultimately, around the globe. “These animals have been around for 450m years, and during my lifetime so many of them will go extinct,” she said. “I want it to stop. It’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to future generations.”

With sharks holding such strong cultural and ecological importance in Hawaii, the bill has faced little opposition and there is hope that this will be the year it becomes law.

You can stay updated on upcoming hearings for both HB808 and its companion bill in the Senate SB489 by clicking here.



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