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Governor Signs Washington State Shark Finning Law

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Humane Society of the United States commends Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire for signing SB 5688, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Island, which prohibits people from selling, trading or distributing shark fins or derivative products including cartilage supplements.

More than 73 million sharks are killed annually primarily for their fins, which are often harvested through “finning,” a practice that involves slicing off the fins of a shark and discarding the animal at sea to drown or bleed to death. Unsustainable fishing methods have led some shark populations to decline by as much as 99 percent in recent decades.

The bill was approved overwhelmingly by both chambers of the Washington State Legislature, passing the House of Representatives on April 5 and the Senate on April 20. Similar laws have been passed in Hawaii, the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, and are before the legislatures in California and Oregon.

“The signing of SB 5688 sends a strong message that the Evergreen State will not tolerate the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning,” said Dan Paul, state director for The HSUS in Washington. “We commend Washington’s lawmakers for standing up for the world’s top oceanic predators.”

Often the most expensive item on restaurant menus, shark fin has no nutritional value, and is typically served simply as a symbol of status. The soup is seen as a symbol of status and is the main driver of the multi-billion dollar international shark fin trade. The dish is highly controversial because of the manner in which shark fins are harvested and the precarious status of many shark populations.  


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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.


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