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California Lawmakers Propose Shark Fin Ban

California Lawmakers Propose Shark Fin Ban

California Assemblymembers Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) revealed a landmark proposal to make it illegal to possess or sell shark fins, on Monday.

Assembly Bill (AB) 376 would essentially ban shark finning, a process where the fins and tails are cut from living sharks, and the remainder of the fish, which is often still alive, is thrown back into the ocean.

Shark fins are considered a delicacy in Chinese cuisine, and are used to make a soup that often sells for more than $80 a bowl. The Associated Press reports that at a large specialty market in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, dried triangular fins are selling for $299 to $699 a pound.

Sign The Petition: Ban The Sale Of Shark Fins In California!

In late December, the U.S. government passed the Shark Conservation Act which prohibited the practice of finning for almost all species of sharks. Unfortunately, loopholes in wording and enforcement have prevented this legislation from having a noticeable effect.

“While shark finning is illegal in the U.S., consumption of shark fin soup in California contributes to shark finning in other parts of the world, a practice that is driving numerous shark populations to the brink of extinction, said Dr. Geoff Shester,” California Program Director at Oceana.

Estimates suggest that between 26 and 73 million sharks are finned each year to feed the demand for this menu item.

“Current laws that ban the practice of shark finning are insufficient when we have species of sharks depleted up to 90 percent,” Assemblymember Fong stated on his website. “The demand for shark fin is growing and the worldwide shark population is depleting to extinction rates. I say it is time to remove shark fin from the menu.”

And not just for the shark’s benefit: An article on points out that sharks have more mercury than any other fish because they are at the top of the food chain, can live for 50 years or more, eat many fish during that lifetime, and continue to store mercury in their bodies during that time. When eaten, shark fin soup introduces a lifetime’s accumulation of mercury into the body.

“Sharks are the top predators in ocean ecosystems around the world,” said Assemblymember Jared Huffman, the bill’s co-author.  “Removing them by this senseless act of finning can seriously destabilize the food chain. To save them from extinction, our bill targets the demand for these shark fins by banning their sale and possession here in California.”

A similar ban on shark fins passed in Hawaii last year. Oregon and Washington are also considering legislative action on shark finning.

Sign The Petition: Ban The Sale Of Shark Fins In California!

Related Reading
Top 5 Endangered Sharks (Slideshow)
CITES Delegates Deny Protection To Sharks And Bluefin Tuna
Shark Extinction In Our Lifetime? (Video)

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Image Credit: Flickr - usfwspacific

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10:56AM PST on Dec 4, 2012

Thank you for article and interesting comments.

10:56AM PST on Dec 4, 2012

Thank you for article and interesting comments.

11:37AM PST on Feb 24, 2012

I totally agree with Gita. Why don't people want to understand the harm they do to sharks and to the whole ecosystem???

6:01AM PST on Jan 15, 2012

This is a very sad story. An other animal has to go only because "we" humans do not want to share the world with other life forms, these life forms "we" would not eat (vegetarian food is not a bad idea, or eating with conscience as the so called primitive cultures did and still do, if they still exist. No meat/fish every day).

As little child i thought that rain is when God and the angels cry - because "we" humans have forgotten that we need this "intelligence", someone who could help... if "we" hadn't turned away for many centuries ago...

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

2:48PM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

PLEASE also look at this Petition.WE REALLY NEEDS EVERYONE'S HELP.

2:40AM PDT on Jul 8, 2011

Wiping out entire species of sharks just for fins to make soup is barbaric and senseless and totally stupid. If the mercury in sharks makes the people who eat them extinct, it will be poetic justice.

1:20PM PDT on May 6, 2011

April 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Aquarium of the Bay today unveiled its No Fins, No Future: Support AB 376exhibition to help local sharks by spurring support for the passage of Assembly Bill, AB 376, which would ban the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins in California.

No Fins, No Future will highlight the importance of this legislation through a multimedia station, including WildAid’s public service announcement by Yao Ming. An action station will provide visitors with a chance to sign personalized postcards in support of AB 376, which the Aquarium will mail to the bill’s authors. In 2010, an Aquarium exhibit calling for an international ban on shark finning generated more than 3,600 individualized letters and pieces of artwork from visitors of all ages. Select artwork is incorporated in the new exhibit.

“The passage of AB 376 is an important first step for banning a practice that should be globally illegal,” said Christina J. Slager, Director of Husbandry for Aquarium of the Bay. ”Sharks are essential to the health of our oceans, and we need to do everything we can to help rebuild their plummeting populations both in our bay and worldwide—this is a great first step,” she continued.

4:47AM PDT on May 3, 2011

The shark has been terribly betrayed by humans & for such an inane thing as shark fin soup!!! We are all stewards of this planet & all the wonderful creatures we inhabit it with. To cut the fins of & toss them back to the sea just to drowned is absolutely void of empathy & compassion. What is wrong with people's souls???

11:54PM PDT on Mar 30, 2011

I have given up eating certain shellfish in the N.E. U.S.A. as they have been over fished .
Cruelty wasn't involved but Shark finning is grotesque and sickening..

11:45PM PDT on Mar 26, 2011

Poor Chinese!
It is a great pity that the sharkfin ban is not a worldwide effort.
Unfortunately there are almost as many Chinese as the rest of us combined!

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