California Bans Possession, Sale of Shark Fins

SACRAMENTO, California, October 7, 2011 (ENS) – Governor Jerry Brown today signed legislation to ban the possession and sale of shark fins in California, saying shark finning for culinary purposes has led to substantial declines in shark populations worldwide.

California is the fourth U.S. state to enact a ban on the sale of shark fins, joining Hawaii, Washington, and Oregon.

“The practice of cutting the fins off of living sharks and dumping them back in the ocean is not only cruel, but it harms the health of our oceans,” said Governor Brown.

“Researchers estimate that some shark populations have declined by more than 90 percent, portending grave threats to our environment and commercial fishing,” he said. “In the interest of future generations, I have signed this bill.”

While many countries have already banned the practice, it continues unabated in unregulated international waters.

By banning the possession and sale of shark fins, California joins Hawaii, Washington, Oregon and Guam in an effort to reduce demand and protect shark populations.

Shark fin soup (Photo by Sifu Renka)

AB 376, the bill banning shark fins was authored by Assemblyman Paul Fong, a Cupertino Democrat. Governor Brown also signed a companion bill by Assemblyman Fong, AB 853, which allows existing stocks of on-hand shark fins to be sold until July 1, 2013.

The ban goes into effect on January 1, 2012, but businesses and individuals can sell shark fins obtained before the ban went into effect, until July 1, 2013.

The bill’s passage marks a huge win for the Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance, an organization that formed to give voice to Asian Americans who support the ban on the sale of shark fins.

Shark fins are prized for making shark fin soup, a costly banquet dish. About 85 percent of U.S. shark fin consumption occurs in California, according to the APA Alliance.

Bill Wong, a member of the APA Alliance, recruited more than 25,000 people to join a campaign on Change.org calling for passage of the ban.

The APA Alliance was one of the bill’s sponsors, organized call-in days, and was instrumental in encouraging Governor Brown to support AB 376.

“We applaud Governor Brown for signing AB 376,” said Wong. “It puts California at the forefront of the global effort to save sharks led by a broad coalition of Asian Pacific Americans, conservationists, animal rights activists, commercial fishermen, business leaders and artists. The passage of this bill may just be the tipping point that will preserve the shark species and the ocean ecosystem.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2011. All rights reserved.