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Key Shark Legislation Takes Effect, as of January 1st

The success of last year’s shark finning campaigns came into fruition on January 1st, 2012, as key legislation took effect in Oregon and California, banning the sale, possession and distribution of shark fins and related products.

Despite the bans, both California and Oregon will still permit the possession of any shark fins acquired prior to January 1, 2012. In California, pre-existing stocks can be sold and distributed until July 2013, when the complete ban takes effect.

With similar bans recently enacted in Hawaii and Washington, the entire Pacific Coast has now illegalized the sales of shark fins, helping to reduce global consumer demand for shark fin products.

Although shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, federal law does not prohibit the importation of shark fins, which frequently enter the country through foreign suppliers or commercial fishers who, until recently, could sell entire shark carcasses to dealers in North America, who then removed and sold the fins. Shark fin bans in the Pacific Coast states now prohibit these activities.

The growing shark fin trade is driving many shark populations into rapid decline, with up to one-third of the world’s shark species threatened with extinction. Fins from up to 73 million sharks are used every year to make shark fin soup.

Learn more about the shark fin trade here.