Yesterday the California Senate’s Natural Resources Committee voted 5-0 (with two abstentions) to support AB 376, outlawing the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins in California with a strong proviso that some type of amendment be incorporated to allow the possibility of some shark fin from “sustainable” sources.
Opponents of the bill including shark fin traders and restaurant owners led by Senator Leland Yee, Assembly member Fiona Ma and Pius Lee and assisted by a high-powered lobby firm are fighting hard to weaken the bill to allow ongoing shark fin sales in some form.
The bill now moves to a Senate fiscal hearing, then on to the full Senate. If passed, California would follow Hawaii, Washington and Oregon as the most prominent state to support shark conservation by banning sales of shark fin.
A recent poll commissioned by the Monterey Bay Aquarium revealed that 70 percent of California's Asian Americans support AB 376, yet supporters still anticipate a close vote as the bill moves through the Senate.
On June 24, Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, pro basketball star Yao Ming, Actor Edward Norton and 30 other celebrities joined WildAid, The Humane Society of the United States and NRDC in an open letter to CA Senators urging them to support the bill as written.
Fins from up to 73 million sharks per year are used to make shark fin soup, a popular Asian delicacy. Shark finning is a cruel and wasteful practice – captured at sea and hauled on deck, the sharks are often still alive while their fins are sliced off. Because shark meat is not considered as valuable as the fins, the maimed animals are tossed overboard to drown or bleed to death.
“Allowing shark fins to be sold in any manner opens the door to an enforcement nightmare in the future,” says Executive Director Peter Knights. “California has the opportunity to lead on this issue and we encourage all California residents to contact their State Senator to urge support on this bill.”
WildAid’s mission is to end the illegal wildlife trade in our lifetimes by reducing demand through public awareness campaigns and providing comprehensive marine protection. WildAid is headquartered in San Francisco, with programming in the United States, China, India, Ecuador, Indonesia, Canada and the United Kingdom. To learn more go to WildAid.org.
Extensive footage and stills of shark finning, the fin trade and preparing shark fin available upon request.