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Landmark Shark Protection Bill Becomes Law in Hawaii

Groups praise Hawaii lawmakers for enacting groundbreaking shark protection measure

HONOLULU — The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and Shark Allies praised Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle and other lawmakers for passing  a law to protect sharks from being killed to supply the market for shark fins. Gov. Lingle signed S.B. 2169 late Friday.

The law prohibits the sale, possession or distribution of shark fins and fin products, including shark fin soup, and closes major enforcement loopholes in existing law. Shark-finning involves cutting off the fins of sharks then throwing the shark back into the ocean, often while still alive, only to drown, starve or die a slow death due to predation from other species. Numerous species of shark are threatened or endangered, with some species on the brink of extinction due to the cruel and exploitive shark fin industry.  

S.B. 2169 was championed by Sen. Clayton Hee, D-Kahuku, La'ie, Ka'a'awa, Kane'ohe, and Rep. Angus McKelvey, D-Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kapalua, Maalaea, Kihei. In addition to sharks' critical role in preserving our ocean's ecosystems, Sen. Hee and the native Hawaiian community emphasized that sharks are considered Hawaiian deities, also known as "aumakua," and protectors of the oceans. The bill takes effect on July 1 of this year. The prohibition on the retail sale of shark fin soup and fin products takes effect on July 1, 2011.

"Thanks to the tremendous efforts of Senator Hee, Representative McKelvey and thousands of supporters both locally and worldwide, Hawaii has become the nation's leader in shark and ocean protection by enacting this unprecedented measure," said Inga Gibson, Hawaii state director for The HSUS.

"With the passage of this bill, Hawaii has set an example for the rest of the country, if not the world, to follow. Other states are already looking to emulate Hawaii's law in the coming years," said Stefanie Brendl, founder and director of Hawaii-based Shark Allies.


  • Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year simply to supply the wasteful demand for shark fin soup. Shark populations cannot sustain current slaughter rates.
  • Sharks are apex predators whose survival affects all other marine species and the entire ocean's ecosystem.
  • Unlike other fish species, sharks produce few pups, and thus, many species are endangered and/or threatened due to the fin trade.
  • The U.S. Congress is currently considering the Shark Conservation Act, which would crack down on the lucrative and abusive practice of shark-finning and close critical loopholes in the federal law to improve enforcement, such as requiring boats to land sharks with their fins still attached.


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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the Web at hsi.org.

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