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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Fin-Tastic Day at the Capitol

The Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” wrapped up earlier this month, but yesterday was Shark Day at the California legislature. More than 100 animal advocates from across the state gathered at the capitol in Sacramento, many carrying stuffed toy sharks and wearing shark t-shirts, to advocate for A.B. 376. The legislation to ban the sale of shark fins, introduced by Assemblymembers Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, passed the Assembly in May by a vote of 65-8, and is now pending in the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

Actress Bo Derek was among the lobbying team, and joined members of WildAid, The HSUS, Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance, and other groups in speaking to lawmakers about the proposed shark fin ban. As Derek told the committee, “Sharks have been around for nearly 400 million years, and yet many stocks may be wiped out in a single human generation due to the increasing demand for shark fins.”

Shark Day at the California Legislature
Shark Day at the California Legislature
photo: Jennifer Fearing

Tens of millions of sharks are killed every year to supply the cruel and wasteful trade in shark fins used for shark fin soup. They’re obtained by cutting the fins off the shark and throwing the animal, often while still alive, back into the ocean to die a slow death. Sharks are our ocean’s top predators and are important for the health of all other marine species and our entire ocean ecosystems.

It’s one of the most wasteful forms of killing and unsustainable destruction of our ocean wildlife—all for a bowl of soup. In the last couple years, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands have all passed legislation to stem the tide of sharks being killed for their fins, and a federal bill signed by President Obama strengthens the enforcement of shark finning laws at sea. 

Now California must join its Pacific neighbors in stopping shark finning and extinction, especially because the state is the biggest market for shark fins outside of Asia. If you live in California, please take action and ask your state senator to support A.B. 376.

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