Last year Hawaii banned the sale of shark fins; California may be next. Bill 376, introduced by two Democrats, would outlaw the sale of shark fins, including the popular Asian delicacy shark fin soup, in the US’s most populous state.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Paul Fong, said at a new conference as reported by the SF Gate, “I grew up on shark fin soup, but when I found out the effect it is having on the shark population two years ago, I stopped eating it.”
However, others see the bill as an affront on an age-old cuisine. Democrat Leland Yee called it an “attack on Asian culture”, according to the SF Gate. Shark fin is also believed by some to have medicinal properties.
Between 26 and 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins. Sharks are brought aboard ships where their fins are cut off then they are thrown back into the water—often still alive—where they succumb to their injuries.
While the US bans the practice of shark finning on its fishing ships, it does allow sale of shark fin. Environmentalists say that this opens a loophole allowing foreign ships to continue the practice to feed American consumers.
The shark finning trade is seen as the primary driver behind drastic declines in many shark species. The scalloped hammered population has dropped by 98 percent in some regions, while the oceanic whitetip shark has declined by 90 percent in the central Pacific Ocean and 99 percent in the Gulf of Mexico. The IUCN Red List has found that 32 percent of open ocean sharks and rays are currently threatened with extinction, a much higher percentage than either mammals or birds.
(01/05/2011) The U.S. Senate has passed the Shark Conservation Act, legislation that bans shark finning in U.S. waters.
(05/31/2010) Governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, has signed into law a ban on shark-fin soup beginning July 1st, 2011, according to Reuters. The soup is currently served in a number of Chinese restaurants in Hawaii, but the trade has decimated certain shark species due to overfishing.
(11/15/2010) Sharks dwell in the ocean, wolves on land; sharks are a type of fish, wolves are a mammal; sharks go back some 400 million years, wolves only some 2 million years. So, these animals should have little in common, right? However, a new study in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment points to surprising similarities among these disparate animals. As top predators, both wolves and sharks impact their prey and other species in similar ways.