Dried shark fins are on sale in Singapore's Chinatown. California joined three other states in banning the sale or possession of shark fins. (Photo: Getty Images)
Faced with a nearly 90 percent drop in shark populations in recent years—along with the fact that shark fins are obtained by skinning them off live sharks that are then left to die in the ocean—California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a statewide ban on the sale and possession of shark fins late last week.
The fins are the main ingredient in shark fin soup, a prized delicacy in some Asian cultures. But advocates of the ban, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Yao Ming and Ted Danson, have pointed out that the method of obtaining the fins is particularly cruel.
“The practice of cutting the fins off of living sharks and dumping them back in the ocean is not only cruel, but it harms the health of our oceans,” said Brown said in a statement. “Researchers estimate that some shark populations have declined by more than 90 percent, portending grave threats to our environment and commercial fishing. In the interest of future generations, I have signed this bill.”
California joins Washington, Oregon, Hawaii and Guam, which have all enacted bans. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has more information on why shark finning is particularly cruel, and how you can help in the global fight to ban the practice.