PASSED! AB 376: Shark Fin Ban

Assembly Bill 376 was introduced by California Assemblymembers Paul Fong (Mountain View) and Jared Huffman (San Rafael). The bill would make it unlawful to possess, sell, offer for sale, trade or distribute shark fins. Exceptions to this would be an individual holding a state license or permit to harvest shark fins. There is a federal law currently against shark fin trade, however, Assemblymember Fong believes it has been ineffective, and thus California must move into action. California’s ports see huge shipments of shark fins.

Every year, 26 to 73 million of sharks are killed for shark fin soup. Sharks are one of the top carnivores in the ocean. As terrifying as they may be, sharks are important for maintaining ecosystem stability through controlling population numbers. Due to shark fining, shark population numbers have seriously declined. While harvesters do not kill the sharks, they slice the fins off, and throw the bodies back into the ocean. The sharks can no longer swim, hunt, or breathe. Sharks also reproduce slowly, so they are unable to recouperate quickly from population losses. One site reports the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species estimates that 30% of open ocean sharks are threatened with extinction.

The bill also cites shark fins contain a high amount of mercury, a known neurotoxin.

Fong states there is a large support for the sharkfin ban. Recent survey states that 70% of Americans support AB 376. Other states, such as Washington (2011) and Hawaii (2010), have signed laws that ban sale, trade or distribution of shark fins. Countries such as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands signed a ban on shark fining in 2011. Legislation is currently underway in Guam and Oregon. National Resource Defense Council believes Palau, the Bahamas, Thailand, Australia, and the Canary Islands, among others, will soon enact bans as well as shark diving and shark-related tourism bring in millions of dollars each year.

The Green Chamber of Commerce supports the passage of AB 376 as well. Look for updates as the bill progresses through the California State Senate!