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The HSUS Joins Advocates to Celebrate Landmark Hawaii Shark Protection Law

Shark finning ban takes effect July 1

  • From left, bill sponsor Sen. Clayton Hee, actress Kelly Hu, artist Ginny Tiu, Stefanie Brendl with Shark Allies, Peter Knights with Wild Aid, HSI's Iris Ho, and HSUS Hawaii state director Inga Gibson celebrating the enactment of a landmark shark finning ban in Hawaii. Iris Ho/The HSUS

  • From left, HSI's Iris Ho, actress Kelly Hu, and HSUS Hawaii state director Inga Gibson at the event. Iris Ho/The HSUS

HONOLULU — Local, national and international advocates for shark conservation gathered to celebrate the historic enactment of the shark finning ban in Hawaii. Senate Bill 2169, championed by state Sen. Clayton Hee, prohibits the sale, possession or distribution of shark fins and fin products, effective July 1. This new law closes a major enforcement loophole which has allowed Hawaii to be the "Pacific hub" for the cruel and wasteful shark fin trade in Asia and beyond.

Shark finning involves cutting off the fins of sharks then throwing the shark back into the ocean, often while still alive, only to suffer an agonizing death from shock, blood loss or predation. Some species of shark are on the brink of extinction due to this exploitive industry.

"With the enactment of this ban on shark finning, Hawaii has once again set an example for the rest of the country, if not the world, to follow," said Inga Gibson, Hawaii state director for The Humane Society of the United States.

Beginning July 1, it shall be illegal to possess, sell or distribute shark fins in the state. Restaurants holding fins prepared for consumption and possessing a permit issued by the Hawaii Department of Health as of July 1 have exactly one year to sell, remove or dispose of any shark fin inventory, including shark-fin soup. Restaurants or retailers not in possession of such a permit by July 1 would be in violation. Furthermore, vessels that could once transfer, trans-ship and store literally tons of fins in Hawaii can no longer do so under the new law.

Kelly Hu, Hawaii-born model, actress and ocean protection supporter, was present to commend Hawaii's legislators and local advocates for their tremendous efforts on this unprecedented measure. Renowned Hawaiian artist Wyland and other conservationists also sent congratulatory messages via Skype. Peter Knights, executive director of Wild Aid, shared public service announcements from basketball star Yao Ming and other celebrity advocates.

"We hope that Hawaii's bill will inspire a move for immediate and strong legislation in other U.S. states and Pacific Island Nations. Hawaii has shown the world that this can be done, and there is absolutely no reason why it shouldn't be replicated across the globe," said Stefanie Brendl, founder and director of Hawaii-based Shark Allies.

Gov. Linda Lingle signed S.B. 2169 into law on May 29. The only exemptions in this new law apply to shark research and educational institutions holding permits issued by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.


  • Hawaii is the first state in the nation to have passed such a measure.
  • Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year to supply the wasteful demand for shark fin soup. Shark populations cannot sustain current slaughter rates.
  • The U.S. Congress is currently considering the Shark Conservation Act, H.R. 81/S. 850, introduced by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam, and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., which would crack down on the lucrative and abusive trade in shark fins and close critical loopholes in the federal law to improve enforcement, such as requiring boats to land sharks with their fins still attached. Passage of the federal law would also strengthen Hawaii's new shark finning law. This legislation has been passed by the House of Representatives and is now before the Senate.


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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

Shark Allies organizes the efforts of activists, conservationists, researchers and media to stop the global slaughter of sharks and to promote conservation of our oceans. Putting an end to the industry of "Shark finning" has become the foremost goal of the organization. Help the Sharks - Save the Ocean. On the Web at sharkallies.org.