Earlier this month, the California State Senate approved a bill that would ban the sale, trade and possession of shark fins inside state borders.
Up to 73 million sharks each year are slaughtered to make shark fin soup, a popular Asian delicacy. Shark finning is a cruel and wasteful practice – captured at sea and hauled on deck, the sharks are often still alive while their fins are sliced off.
The bill, AB 376, now sits on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown, waiting to be signed into law, and celebrities around the world are raising their voices to ensure that he does just that.
In California, WildAid, NRDC and The Humane Society of the United States worked with Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton and Yao Ming to write a joint letter to Governor Jerry Brown, urging him to sign the bill for the sake of our oceans. The letter, also signed by over 50 additional notables including James Cameron, musician Jackson Browne and actress Rosario Dawson, asserts that the ban is “absolutely necessary if we are to conserve sharks and, in effect, our entire ocean ecosystem.”
In Shanghai, WildAid recently hosted a luncheon on with Yao Ming and leading British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson in attendance. During the event, leading Chinese entrepreneur Zhang Yue called for greater protection of sharks and premiered two new public service announcements featuring Yao and Branson.
Yao publicly committed to stop eating shark fin soup in 2006 after learning of the cruel and wasteful practice of “finning” and the threat of extinction facing many shark populations as a result of demand for their fins. Branson is backing the shark conservation campaign after swimming with whale sharks during their annual migration through the Gulf of Mexico.
Even more recently, world-renowned chefs Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali, Gordon Ramsay, Cecilla Chiang, Hiro Sone, Mary Sue Milliken & Susan Feniger and 20 other significant figures from the culinary world joined the fight as well. The chefs pledged to never serve shark fin soup at their restaurants. And the Food Network recently announced that shark products would no longer be featured throughout its portfolio of media properties.
An estimated 1/3 of shark species are currently threatened with extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, with only a handful under any sort of legal protection. A recent survey by the Monterey Bay Aquarium indicated that 76 percent of all registered voters in California, and 70 percent of Chinese-American voters, are in support of the proposed California shark finning ban.
Image Credit: Flickr - usfwspacific