THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release December 26, 2000
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
I have signed H.R. 5461, the "Shark Finning Prohibition Act."
Shark-finning is the taking of a shark, removing the fin, and returning the
carcass to the sea. This legislation prohibits shark-finning in all U.S.
waters; provides for initiation of international negotiations to prohibit
shark-finning; and authorizes research to conserve shark populations.
The Administration has actively supported the prohibition of
shark-finning because of the harmful impact on sharks and shark
populations. The practice has been administratively banned in the Atlantic
Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. H.R. 5461 will establish
the ban in law and extend it to the Pacific Ocean.
The United States has been a leading proponent of international shark
conservation at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and
has advocated prohibiting wasteful fishing practices, including shark
finning. We have also demonstrated considerable leadership in other
international fora to conserve sharks and ban shark-finning. In the
Eastern Pacific, the United States has been active in the Inter-American
Tropical Tuna Commission in dealing effectively with issues such as shark
management on the high seas. And the United States has been participating,
along with thirty other countries, in the High-Level Multilateral
Con-ferences for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory
Species in the Western and Central Pacific. Finally, the United States
plans to continue in its efforts at the International Commission for the
Conservation of Atlantic Tunas to obtain a proposal that would ban
shark-finning, as well as implement a variety of conservation measures.
Only through international cooperation can effective management be
ensured for sharks, especially on the high seas. The United States will
intensify efforts to convince other countries to join in prohibiting shark
finning, consistent with the goals of H.R. 5461.
I note, however, that two provisions of the bill raise constitutional
concerns. Because the Constitution vests the conduct of foreign affairs
with the President, Congress may not dictate the executive branch's
negotiations with foreign governments (section 5). Because the
Constitution preserves to the President the authority to decide whether and
when the executive branch should recommend new legislation, Congress may
not require the President or his subordinates to present such
recommendations (section 6). I therefore direct executive branch officials
to carry out these provisions in a manner that is consistent with the
President's constitutional responsibilities.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
THE WHITE HOUSE,
December 26, 2000.
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