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 Submit Comments to NMFS - sample text . . .

You can keep your comment to NMFS simple; simply let them know that you want them to remove any "preemption" language from their proposal. (They should not interfere with State or local laws.)

If you want to write something more substantive, feel free to draw from this sample message, but remember, they will be influenced by distinct messages, and will be more moved by YOUR OWN words than by a simple cut & paste:

Dear Ms. Marshall and Ms. Wilkinson:

While I support the Shark Conservation Act as it was intended, and the effort of the agency to address shark finning and closing loopholes in our national shark finning ban, I disagree with the interpretation that State and territorial statutes prohibiting the possession, sale and distribution of detached shark fins and shark fin products are preempted by federal legislation on shark fishing management.

Shark fins that are imported and sold in the U.S. can come from any market in the world, including markets that deem shark finning legal. State bills, territory bills and statutes that address their markets for shark fins play an important role in global shark conservation.

Despite years of management measures, many shark populations are still being overfished and are threatened with extinction. One of the largest threats sharks face around the world is overexploitation driven by the unabated and unsustainable demand for shark fins in shark fin soup.

In 2010, President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act into law, which closed loopholes in the existing law and required that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached. Three years later, the National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed regulations to implement this requirement.

However, in this proposal, the Fisheries Service should remove all text referring to the potential for federal law to preempt or overturn recent shark fin trade bans that have been passed by State legislatures around the country.

Seven U.S. States, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands have all implemented bans to prohibit the sale, possession, trade, and distribution of shark fins within the last few years, all sending the message that consumers want these products off the market. The State shark fin trade bans do not prevent shark fishermen from continuing to conduct their business and does not interfere with the federal fisheries management process. The Fisheries Service should withdraw this portion of the proposed rule for three reasons:

First, it is inappropriate to issue regulations before understanding the full environmental and economic impacts of the proposed action. The Fisheries Service has admitted that this information is still being gathered. Second, it is inappropriate to issue vague regulations about potentially preempted state laws without explicitly identifying specific laws in question; making these decisions should be left up to the courts if and when these conflicts arise. Third, it is inappropriate to issue this warning to the States, as it is legal (and even a normal occurrence) for individual States to implement laws that go above and beyond federal requirements. For these reasons, the Fisheries Service must withdraw this portion of the proposed rule and initiate a separate process aimed at gathering the appropriate information.

It is the *demand* for shark fins that recent State and territorial legislation addresses.

State and territory shark fin trade laws are not fishery laws, and do not conflict with fishing or fishing efforts in State or federal waters. State and territory shark fin trade laws were passed through democratic legislative process with overwhelming bi-partisan and public support. Each law drew on and incorporated extensive feedback from the public and includes provisions that reflect the unique needs of each State or territory and its citizens. A federal agency must not attempt to circumvent the democratic process and the will of the People by crafting a simple rule.

In conclusion, this portion of the proposed rule should be withdrawn because it is outside the scope of implementing the Shark Conservation Act. Finalizing this text would undermine the significant progress that has been made toward limiting the demand for the import of shark fins, which remains one of the largest threats to the recovery and conservation of sharks around the world.

Please submit comments to NMFS to let them know that you want them to remove any language that would result in the State and territory shark fin laws being overturned or undermined. Your personal comments will carry a tremendous amount of weight, so please take a quick moment to submit your comments, even if it is just a sentence or two.

Submit your comment by following this link: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=NOAA-NMFS-2012-0092-2066

Comments must be submitted no later than Wednesday, 31 July 2013, 23:59EDT (GMT -0400)

Please, please, please submit a comment! This is the best way to keep NMFS from disrupting years of conservation work and from interfering with the State and Territorial shark fin bans.

Thank you!

...and remember, everyone has the power to make a difference in our world.
Please lend a hand to save some fins!

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