The State of California enacted a legislative ban on shark fins, through the adoption of Assembly Bill 376 (authored by Paul Fong and Jared Huffman). The bill was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown into law last week. The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education (COARE), applauds the State of California for joining them in their work to actively address shark conservation issues, and their attempts to reduce shark fin consumption in the U.S. and worldwide.
Shark “finning” is the process of capturing a shark, cutting off their fins while they are alive, and tossing them back in the ocean to die. Why would someone do something so heartless and cruel? For a soup.
Shark fin soup is a delicacy in China and areas with large Chinese populations. Just one bowl can sell for up to $100. The demand for this soup, considered a luxury item, is increasing as the income of the middle class increases.
This rapid increase has been the cause of between 26 and 73 million sharks a year. Christopher Chin, a supporter of the Shark finning ban and executive director of San Francisco-based Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research and Education summed it up perfectly when he said, “Sharks are one of our oceans’ top predators, keeping the entire ecosystem in check, but shark populations have declined dramatically over the last few decades as a result of human greed and lack of understanding.” In fact, since the 1970s the populations of several shark species have been reduced by over 95%.
Opponents to the shark finning ban claim it is discriminatory and targets a specific cultural practice. Chin, who is Chinese-American, pointed out policymakers were not targeting a specific ethnic group, but a major cause of shark mortality.
Progress has been made in this debate as California’s governor, Jerry Brown, signed a bill banning shark finning. California joins Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington who also banned this practice. Governor Brown said, “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.”
The battle continues, but activists are excited about the progress in California and hope other states join in the fight to end this inhumane practice.