California governor Jerry Brown on Friday signed legislation banning the the importation, possession and sale of shark fins in California.
The move follows similar bans in Washington, Oregon and Hawaii and comes as shark populations are on the decline worldwide.
In signing the legislation, Brown called the practice of shark finning “cruel” and damaging to the health of ocean ecosystems.
Chart based on International Shark Attack File data. Shark image courtesy of NOAA.
“Researchers estimate that some shark populations have declined by more than 90 percent, portending grave threats to our environment and commercial fishing,” said Brown in a statement. “In the interest of future generations, I have signed this bill.”
Supporters of the ban say it will help reduce demand for shark fin, which is used to make shark fin soup, a Chinese delicacy often served at weddings. California is the largest importer of shark fins, although it had already banned shark finning along its coast.
The legislation allows existing stocks of on-hand shark fins to be sold until July 1, 2013.