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Starfish attempt to save sharks

Children lobby to ban the sale of shark fins in their state

Kind News magazine, Aug/Sept 2016

  • Children in an after-school program in New Hampshire lobbied to ban the sale of shark fins in their state.  Photo by Elizabeth Segeberg

Do you know the story, "The Boy and the Starfish?" It goes something like this:  A man sees a boy throwing starfish that have washed up on the beach back into the ocean. He tells the boy that he's wasting his time, "You can't possibly save them all. You can't make a difference." As the boy returns another starfish to the sea he says to the man, "Maybe, but I made a huge difference for that one!"

Members of an after-school program in New Hampshire liked the story so much that they named their club after it!

The "Starfish Club" is sponsored by the New Hampshire SPCA. Club members do a lot for shelter animals, but want to make a difference for other animals too. They learned that a boy in Massachusetts helped get a law passed banning the sale of shark fins in his state. The Starfish kids decided to try to do the same in New Hampshire.

Shark finning involves cutting off the fins of sharks then throwing the sharks back into the ocean to die. The fins are sold and used to make shark fin soup. Each year tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins.

Shark smarts

The kids made posters, collected petition signatures and wrote letters to raise awareness about the problem. When a bill to ban the trade in shark fin was proposed in their state, four club members traveled to the state capitol. Working with Representative Efstathia Booras, they testified for passage of the bill. Legislators listened to what the kids had to say, but in the end, the bill wasn't passed into law. At least not this time.

"I feel proud of myself and the Starfish Club for working very hard," says Payton Paradis, age 10. "I am sad that the law didn't pass, but I hope we encouraged many kids around the world to keep trying, no matter what the problem is. And remember: Fins belong on sharks, not in soup!"

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