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New York Ends Shark Fin Trade

Gov. Cuomo Signs Legislation to Protect Sharks and Oceans

Fourteen major animal welfare, environmental, and conservation organizations are applauding Gov. Andrew Cuomo for signing into law A.1769b/S.1711b to end New York’s contribution to the dire collapse of shark populations worldwide. Taking effect on July 1, 2014, the law passed the state legislature under the leadership of Assemblymember Alan Maisel, D-Brooklyn and Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo bans the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins. Violations are punishable by up to 15 days in jail and $100 fine for each fish. 

New York – one of the largest markets for shark fins outside Asia and the largest port of entry for shark fins on the East Coast – joins seven 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.

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 75 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.

California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam, and Northern Mariana Islands have enacted 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. 

Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid, said: "New York is the last major market for shark fin in the US to close and this encourages China, which has banned shark fin from state banquets, to take further action to reduce demand for shark fin. Finally some respite for beleaguered shark populations."

Patrick Kwan, director of grassroots organizing for The Humane Society of the United States, said: “New York will no longer be a haven for the cruel and unsustainable trade in shark fins. The Empire State has long taken action to protect other threatened and endangered species such as tigers and elephants, now we’re taking action to protect sharks and help end the cruelty of shark finning worldwide.”

Michael Skoletsky, executive director of Shark Savers, said: “Sharks are critically important to a healthy marine environment and divers like me have grown to appreciate sharks as being intelligent and graceful animals. Thank you, New York, for opting out of the deadly shark fin trade that is primarily responsible for devastating shark populations throughout the world.”