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Federal Court Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging California Shark Fin Law

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International applaud decision

The federal district court in the Northern District of California dismissed a lawsuit challenging California’s shark fin law. The lawsuit, filed by shark fin dealers based in San Francisco, sought to overturn landmark legislation from 2011 to eliminate the demand for shark fins in California and end the state’s role in facilitating the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning. 

“The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International applaud the court for upholding California’s decisive action on this important animal welfare and conservation measure,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president of animal protection litigation for The HSUS. “With this ruling, the momentum to protect sharks globally has taken a huge leap forward.”  

In its order, the district court agreed with The HSUS and other proponents of California’s shark fin law that the state law was enacted for the purposes of conserving sharks, preventing animal cruelty and protecting public health. The court also held that there is no conflict between the California law and federal law, finding that the two laws have a consistent purpose to eliminate shark finning, a position supported in a recent announcement by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The HSUS was joined in the litigation by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation and Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance. These organizations were represented by the law firm Schiff Hardin LLP and lawyers with the HSUS’ animal protection litigation group.

For more information, visit humanesociety.org/sharks.

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 240-672-8397; ksanderson@humanesociety.org