Photo: Hyper Acidic Other Asian via Flickr/CC BY
California legislators just introduced a bill that would ban the sale and distribution of shark fins. Shark fins are most popularly used in Chinese soup that's considered a delicacy. But, as you're likely aware, shark fins are most often procured as the result of a particularly abhorrent fishing method -- sharks are caught, the fin is sliced off, then the shark is tossed back into the ocean where they bleed to death. Here's a look at the bill that aims to stop California from promoting the practice. From the LA Times:
State lawmakers on Monday proposed to outlaw the possession, sale and distribution of shark fins that are used in traditional soup, saying it will help protect the fish from extinction, but opponents called it an attack on Chinese culture.The claim that this is somehow an assault on Chinese culture is particularly bogus -- shark fin soup is leading to a worldwide decline in shark populations, plain and simple.
"Used in shark fin soup, their collection involves discarding the rest of the shark's body at sea, using only 2-5% of the animal and costing 26-73 million sharks their lives every year," said Kate Slusark, a spokeswoman for the NRDC.
The conservation group Ocean applauded the newly introduced bill for precisely that reason, saying in a statement that "In recent decades some shark populations have declined by as much as 90%. Removing sharks from ocean ecosystems can destabilize these systems and even lead to reductions in populations of other species, including commercially-caught fish and shellfish species lower in the food web."
Shark finning is not only a repulsive practice at a fundamental level -- it's also destroying shark populations around the globe. Banning their sale in California would be a worthy stride in the right direction.