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Coalition Asks Federal Court to Dismiss Lawsuit Against California Shark Fin Law

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Asian Pacific Americans for Ocean Harmony Alliance

Animal protection and ocean conservation organizations filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a California law banning the sale and distribution of shark fins in the state.  The California law is a critical tool in the effort to end the cruel and unsustainable practice of "finning," which is an abhorrent practice that involves slicing off the fins of a shark and discarding the animal at sea, often while still alive.

The Humane Society of the United States, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Asian Pacific Americans for Ocean Harmony Alliance were lead organizational sponsors and proponents of the California law, and filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed in federal court by San Francisco-based shark fin dealers.  

In September, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision rejecting the shark fin dealers' request to immediately enjoin the law.  The lower court had previously ruled that the shark fin dealers did not have a likelihood of success on any of their claims.

Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation for The Humane Society of the United States said, “Federal courts have now ruled twice to keep California’s landmark shark fin law in place, rejecting efforts from shark finning proponents to block enforcement of the law.  This important animal welfare measure will help prevent the loss of millions of sharks each year to the cruel practice of finning and should finally be upheld."

The high value of shark fins drives the practice of "finning," while 95 percent of the animal is tossed overboard.  Finned sharks are unable to swim, and thus unable to breathe, when thrown back into the water.

Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Director of Oceanic Conservation Policy, Aimee David said, “California's shark fin law ended the state’s participation in the global shark fin trade, which is driving the decline of shark populations around the world. With this law, California helped lead the way for other U.S. states and countries around the globe to take similar action for shark conservation.”

APAOHA Chair, Judy Ki said, "Chinese culture promotes harmony with nature, not wasteful exploitation. In line with those beliefs, we as a community can recognize that harming these majestic animals unnecessarily is inhumane." 

The coalition filing the motion to dismiss is represented by the law firm Schiff Hardin LLP and lawyers from The Humane Society of the United States' Animal Protection Litigation department.

Media Contacts:

The Humane Society of the United States: Naseem Amini, 301-548-7793, namini@humanesociety.org

Monterey Bay Aquarium: Karrie Carnes, 831-647-6856, kcarnes@mbayaq.org 

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