Legislature Passes Shark Fin Ban
September 7, 2011
Yesterday, Sept. 6, the California Senate passed AB 376, banning the import, possession and sale of shark fins. The Assembly passed the bill in May; if signed, it will take effect in January 2013.
A spectrum of celebrities (including basketball giant Yao Ming) and environmental groups have rallied behind the bill. Defenders of Wildlife is organizing a letter-writing campaign urging Gov. Jerry Brown to sign it.
They describe shark finning as a "gruesome practice" that involves amputating the animals' fins and tails while they are alive, and leaving them to bleed to death or drown. Shark fins fetch about $400 per pound, driving a business that kills about 73 million sharks every year, according to DOW.
"Overfishing of sharks continues today at unsustainable levels," the letter states. "Nearly a third of all shark species face extinction."
Lobbyists representing business groups have reportedly been working against the bill, calling it an attack on Chinese culture. Shark fin soup is a traditional Chinese dish, so a ban in California—which has the nation's largest Chinese-American population—is viewed as a significant blow to the finning industry.
If the bill becomes law, California will join three other states with shark fin bans.