New bill approved overwhelmingly
The California State Assembly has voted 62 to 8 to ban the sale and distribution of shark fins, thus effectively taking shark fin soup off the menu in that state.
Shark finning is the practice of catching the animals, cutting off their fins and then throwing the sharks back in the ocean where they are no longer able to survive. The fins are used to make the “delicacy” known as shark fin soup, which can sell for up to $80 a bowl.
While sharks kill at most 10 people a year, humans kill more than 70 million sharks a year.
Sharks first appeared in the ocean about 300 million years ago. They have survived two mass extinctions – 250 million years ago when most existing species were eradicated, and 65 million years ago when the reign of the dinosaurs came to an end. But the mass extinction that’s now underway, primarily at the hand of humans, is one that the sharks may not be able to survive.
Those opposed to the passage of the bill in the California Assembly argued that killing sharks for soup is part of their culture and tradition, but this fell somewhat flat.
“Just as we banned the cultural tradition of foot binding, the tradition of eating shark fin soup, served to show one’s affluence, needs to end as well,” said Assembly member Paul Fong. “I am honored that the California State Assembly recognized what 76 percent of Californians and 70 percent of Chinese American voters in California have already recognized: that sharks are critical to the ocean’s health. Furthermore, our state and federal laws against finning are toothless in international waters. That’s why these efforts to stop the importation and demand here in California are so urgent.”
The bill will now move to the California Senate.