Photo by rengber via Flickr CC
We've been following the controversial bill that would ban the sale of shark fins in California. Earlier this week, the Senate voted with the bill, helping get the bill one step closer to becoming law. AB 376 will ban on the sale, trade, possession, and distribution of shark fins in the state -- but it must be signed by Governor Jerry Brown by October 9, 2011 in order to become law. A press release from Oceana states, "Oceana applauds the Senate for taking action to halt California's contribution to the global decline of shark species. Assemblymember Fong (D- Mountain View) and Assemblymember Huffman (D- San Rafael), the bill authors, deserve special recognition for bringing this issue to the forefront and for their unwavering commitment to protecting the ocean's apex predator."
The bill would follow similar laws enacted in Hawaii, Oregon and Washington state, and help strengthen the existing federal laws banning shark finning. While the practice is illegal, the sale of fins is not. This bill would help address the problem from both the angles of supply and of demand.
Each year, humans kill somewhere between 73 million and 100 million sharks -- the numbers are imprecise because oversight of the trade is vague in places. The fishing of sharks has been devastating to the populations of these important predators. As Oceana reports, "In recent decades some shark populations have declined by as much as 99%. Removing sharks from ocean ecosystems can destabilize the ocean food web and even lead to declines in populations of other species, including commercially-caught fish and shellfish species lower in the food web."
Should California's governor sign the bill, it can help make a significant dent in the trade of fins as California is one of the largest markets for shark fins outside of Asia. And hopefully keep up momentum in ending shark finning altogether.
If you want to encourage Governor Brown to sign the bill, you can send him a note with this simple tool from Monterey Bay Aquarium.
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More on California's Shark Fin Bill
Ban on Selling Shark Fins Passes California Assembly
California Moves Closer to Banning Shark Fins, But The Debate Rages
As Oregon Bans Shark Fins, Will California Follow?
California's Proposed Shark Fin Ban Divides Chinese-American Community