On Monday, the California State Assembly overwhelmingly approved a ban on the sale and distribution of shark fins inside state lines.
The bill, known as AB376, was proposed by California lawmakers Paul Fong and Jared Huffman just over three months ago. It was approved in the lower House by a vote of 62-8 vote after a long floor debate.
The bill 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.
It is estimated that as many as 73 million sharks are killed each year, the majority of which are finned. Studies suggest that 90 percent of some shark species are gone. At this rate, sharks which have been around for hundreds of millions of years could soon become extinct.
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.
“Just as we banned the cultural tradition of foot binding, the tradition of eating shark fin soup served to show one’s affluence needs to end as well,” said Assemblymember Fong in a statement. “I am honored that the California State Assembly recognized what 76 percent of Californians and 70 percent of Chinese American voters in California have already recognized — that sharks are critical to the ocean’s health. Furthermore, our state and federal laws against finning are toothless in international waters — that’s why these efforts to stop the importation and demand here in California are so urgent.”
The bill will now move to the California senate.
Supporters of the bill include The Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance, actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Edward Norton, Master Chef Martin Yan, Chef Charles Phan of the Slanted Door, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences and The Humane Society of the United States
Image Credit: Flickr - usfwspacific