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July 1, 2012

Illinois Becomes Fifth State to Ban Shark Fin Trade

Governor Quinn signs House Bill 4119 into law

Humane Society International

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International applaud Governor Pat Quinn and state lawmakers for enacting legislation to end Illinois' contribution to the dire collapse of shark populations worldwide.  Illinois joins four Pacific states – California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington – and the U.S. territories of Guam and Northern Mariana Islands in passing laws to provide critical protection to sharks and to preserve the health of the world's ocean ecosystems by banning the possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins.

House Bill 4119, sponsored by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) and Sen. Antonio Muñoz (D-Chicago), passed the Illinois House of Representatives on March 8 by a vote of 81-33.  The bill passed the Senate on May 15 by a vote of 41-13.

“The unsustainable demand for shark fins has had a devastating impact on shark populations worldwide, and this decisive action makes it clear:  Illinois will no longer contribute to this wasteful cruelty,” said Kristen Strawbridge, Illinois state director for The HSUS. “We thank Governor Quinn for signing this bill into law and making Illinois the first Midwestern state to join the international movement to protect sharks by shutting down the market for shark fins.”

The HSUS and HSI thank Rep. Feigenholtz (D-12) and Sen. Munoz (D-1) for sponsoring this important legislation, and Representatives Carol Sente (D-59), Randy Ramey (R-55), Daniel Biss (D-17), and Monique Davis (D-27), and Senators John Mulroe (D-10), Pamela Althoff (R-32), and Kirk Dillard (R-24) for their leadership in the legislature.

Every year, nearly 73 million sharks are killed, tens of millions for their fins alone. The animals’ fins are cut off and they are left to die at sea. The fins are used for shark fin soup, a luxury dish sometimes served at Chinese weddings and banquets.  This soup has grown in popularity, increasing consumer demand for shark fins and contributing to the decimation of shark populations worldwide.  As a result of these fishing pressures, one-third of open ocean sharks are threatened with extinction.

Animals at the top of the food chain, such as sharks, have few natural predators, so they are slow to mature and have very few young.  As a result, sharks are extremely sensitive to fishing pressures and recover slowly from overfishing.  As sharks play a vital role in the oceans, their depletion could cause irreparable damage to marine ecosystems.

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463 (o), 240-672-8397 (c); ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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