June 28, 2011
Hawaii’s Shark Fin Product Ban Takes Effect July 1
Restaurants and retailers reminded of prohibition on sale of shark fin soup and other fin products
HONOLULU – The Humane Society of the United States, Shark Allies and marine protection advocates are reminding restaurants and retailers across Hawaii that beginning July 1, it is illegal for any person to sell or distribute shark fin soup or other products containing shark fin. This provision was part of Senate Bill 2169, sponsored by state Senate Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee, D-Kahuku, La'ie, Ka'a'awa, Kane'ohe. Passed in 2010, SB 2169 prohibits the sale, distribution, trade or possession of shark fins. The bill included a clause that allowed restaurants licensed by the Hawaii Department of Health and possessing existing shark fin inventory to sell or dispose of any products by July 1, 2011.
Since the passage of the Hawaii law last year, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and Washington state enacted similar legislation. Shark finning bills are currently being considered in California and Oregon.
In January 2011, President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 which strengthens the federal law to combat shark finning at sea. The federal law now requires that sharks be landed with their fins attached, previous law used an unenforceable "ratio" system that didn't require fins be attached. Strong state laws like Hawaii's, where the mere possession of fins is illegal, are needed because of potential loopholes that continue to drive this cruel trade.
Every year, tens of millions of sharks are killed solely for their fins, which are 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. Often the most expensive item on restaurant menus, shark fin soup is customarily served at Chinese weddings or banquets. The demand for shark fin soup coupled with unsustainable fishing methods have led some shark populations to decline by as much as 99 percent in recent decades.
Quotes from supporters of Hawaii’s landmark shark protection law:
“Sharks have a very unique and distinguished presence in Hawaiian culture, as they do in our precious ecosystems. Prohibiting the sale of shark fin is the best way to protect this magnificent species.”– Sen. Clayton Hee
“The shark fin trade is the major driving factor in the global decimation of sharks. A strong stance against this industry is the most effective step we can take to give shark populations a chance to recover.” – Stefanie Brendl of Shark Allies
“Hawaii has proven to be a leader in shark conservation. The Humane Society of the United States appreciates the community’s continued support for the protection of sharks by not buying or selling the products that drive this cruel and wasteful trade” – Inga Gibson, Hawaii state director for The HSUS
“As a business person, I am so grateful that more businesses today understand that it's not just about making money but doing what is right. Our restaurants and the Chinese community in particular, should be proud to lead the way for the rest of the world to follow.” – former First Lady of Hawaii Vicky Cayetano
“As a Chinese American in Hawaii, I am glad to see the support of those in the community who are willing to put the welfare of our future generations, above tradition, status, and profit.” –entertainer and marine advocate Ginny Tiu
Shark Allies is a Hawaii-based non-profit organization dedicated to protecting sharks.“Help the Sharks - Save the Ocean.” For more information visit www.sharkallies.com.
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.