On October 7, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown announced that he signed AB376 into law which will come into effect on January 1, 2012. The new law will prohibit the selling, trading, and possession of shark fins. It will permit the stuffing and mounting of sharks and the use of shark fins for research and medical institutions. Brown signed another bill, AB853, which will allow existing stocks of shark fins to continue to be sold until July 1, 2013. California has now joined Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and Guam in the ban against shark finning.
The Governor’s decision is good news for advocates who have been pushing the ban for sometime including celebrities such as NBA star Yao Ming and environmental groups; But the new law has also received some negative feedback. Opponents complain that the ban is racist, as shark fins are used in a soup which is popular in some Asian cultures. The soup is also very popular in California which is the soup’s largest market outside of Asia.
Although the soup is a popular delicacy, sharks have been paying a price. In the pursuit of shark fins, fishermen cut the fins off of sharks and leave the sharks in the ocean to die. 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins and shark populations are estimated to have declined more than 90%. With the new law prohibiting shark finning, environmentalists are hopeful that shark populations will boost and balance will be restored to the oceans.
Thanks Huffington Post for the pic!