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April 23, 2013

New York Senate Passes Bill to End Cruel and Unsustainable Shark Fin Trade

Assembly urged to take action to protect sharks and oceans

Fourteen major animal welfare, environmental and conservation organizations applaud the New York Senate for unanimously passing S.1711b/A.1769b to end New York’s contribution to the dire collapse of shark populations worldwide. If Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs the bill, New York will join six states and all three Pacific U.S territories in passing similar laws to provide critical protection to sharks and preserve the health of the world’s ocean ecosystems by banning the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins.

Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, said: “I am proud to be the Senate sponsor of A.1769b/S.1711b, prohibiting the possession, sale, and trade of shark fin in New York. The decimation of the shark population is a serious concern as it has a detrimental trickle-down effect for the entire marine food chain. With some shark populations in serious peril, and other countries and states passing legislation to protect sharks, New York should be a leader in extending protection to these magnificent animals.”

Patrick Kwan, director of grassroots organizing for The Humane Society of the United States said: “We commend the humane leadership of Senator Mark Grisanti and Senate Majority Coalition Leaders Senators Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein for taking critical action today to end the cruel and unsustainable shark fin trade. The Assembly overwhelmingly passed a similar bill last year, and we trust they will act again to stop this illicit trade that thrives off the cruelty of shark finning.”

The bipartisan state legislation is championed by Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, and Assemblymembers Alan Maisel, D-Brooklyn, and Linda B. Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, with the sponsorship support of more than 65 state legislators, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, D-Queens, in addition to more than a dozen New York City Councilmembers through a resolution by Councilmember Margaret Chin, D-Lower Manhattan. It also has the support of every Chinese American legislator in the Empire State.

Similar legislation recently passed in Maryland and is awaiting Gov. Martin O'Malley’s signature. Lawmakers in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands have passed similar laws in recent years. The trade is spurred by the demand for shark fin soup, an expensive Chinese delicacy and status symbol commonly served at banquets and other celebrations.  

Facts:

  • The fins from up to 73 million sharks are used to make shark fin soup each year.
  • Conservation, fisheries enforcement and a shark finning ban in the U.S. alone are not enough to conserve sharks. A ban on shark fin products, such as A.1769b/S.1711b, is the most effective way to eliminate the demand for shark fins and to eradicate shark finning around the world.
  • In March 2013, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species listed certain shark species on Appendix II – the first time shark species with high commercial value have been granted such protections in the 40-year history of the convention.
  • Shark fin soup is often the most expensive item on restaurant menus and typically served simply as a symbol of status. It has no nutritional value 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 outside of the U.S. and the precarious status of many shark populations.
  • In 2011, President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act to strengthen the federal law against shark finning at sea and require that sharks be landed with their fins still attached.

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson, 240-672-8397, ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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