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June 28, 2013

California Shark Fin Trade Meets Long-Awaited Demise

Conservation, animal groups cheer new law’s arrival

Landmark legislation to end the sale, trade and possession of shark fins in California will go into effect Monday, July 1. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation and the Asian Pacific Ocean Harmony Alliance (APAOHA) join The Humane Society of the United States in heralding the arrival of the 2011 law that eliminates the local market for shark fins in California and ends the state’s role in facilitating the destructive practice of shark finning. 

Aimee David, director of ocean conservation policy for the Monterey Bay Aquarium said: “This is an important milestone in the global campaign to end shark finning. California’s example has inspired several states to act, and we hope many others will follow suit.”

The practice of shark finning – in which sharks are captured, their fins cut off and their bodies thrown back into the sea, often when still alive – is a major driver of the rapid decline of sharks around the world. Finning has led to declines by as much as 90 percent in some shark populations during recent decades.

Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director for The HSUS said: “Sharks need their fins, and we don’t. The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International were pleased to help urge California’s decisive action on this important animal welfare and conservation measure. The momentum to protect sharks from horrific cruelty and decimation is taking a huge leap forward.” 

Assembly Bill 376, authored by Assemblymembers Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, and now-U.S. Representative Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, was sponsored by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and APAOHA and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Oct. 7, 2011. The last shark fin can be legally sold in California on June 30, 2013.

U.S. Representative Huffman said: “California is leading the way in preventing the global extinction of sharks. The practice of cutting the fins off of living sharks and dumping them back in the ocean is not only cruel, but it destabilizes the food chain and harms our oceans. Shark populations around the world are in serious decline, and California’s law is a major step toward giving these apex predators a chance to recover their populations and restoring balance to our oceans.”

Assemblymember Fong said: "California’s law seeks to protect sharks in a fair and non-discriminatory way that is important to saving the environment and preserving the ocean’s ecosystem for future generations. I urge those who opposed AB 376 to follow the law and join the majority of Chinese Americans who strongly support protecting sharks and the ocean’s habitat."

Facts:

  • The fins from tens of millions of sharks are used to supply worldwide demand for shark fins and fin products each year.
  • Conservation enforcement and finning bans in the U.S. alone are not enough to conserve sharks. A ban on shark fin products, such as AB 376 in California, is an effective way to eliminate the demand for shark fins in local markets, and to help eradicate shark finning around the world.  
  • Shark fin 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-million 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.  
  • In January 2011, President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act to strengthen the federal law against shark finning in U.S. waters and require that sharks be landed with their fins still attached.  Nevertheless, fins that have been removed from live sharks outside U.S. territorial waters continue to be imported to satisfy the demand for shark fin products in California and other U.S. states.
  • Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon and Washington – as well as all three U.S. Pacific territories of Guam, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands – have passed similar laws to provide critical protections to sharks. 


Media Contacts:

The Humane Society of the United States: Kaitlin Sanderson, 301-721-6463, ksanderson@humanesociety.org

Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation: Ken Peterson, 831-648-4922, KPeterson@mbayaq.org

Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance: Judy Ki, jki128@cox.net

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