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Shark soup is finished in New York, as Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Friday banning the possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins in the entire state of New York. The law will take effect on July 1, 2014.
The banning of shark fin soup will have an effect on New York's Chinatown, as shark fin soup is an extremely high-end delicacy in Chinese cuisine and a frequent centerpiece at banquets. However, several restaurateurs said they had already begun phasing out the polarizing soup before the law went into effect.
"We don't use very much shark fin right now," said Tony Chen manager of Grand Harmony Palace, to USA Today. "Not that many people ask for it."
At Ping's Seafood, waiter Ricky Tsoi said they had stopped serving shark fin soup in May, though he said customers still ask for it sometimes.
Up to 73 million sharks are killed each year to meet demand for shark fin soup, though exact numbers are difficult to come by as much of the shark fin trade is not closely tracked. The most controversial part of the practice is called "finning," where the sharks are pulled from the water and their fins cut off. Then the mutilated sharks are thrown back in the water to die slowly.
"Not only is the process inhumane, but it also affects the natural balance of the oceanic ecosystem," Cuomo said.
Several U.S. states have already banned the trade of shark fins, including California, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington.
Ninety-five percent of the annual shark fin harvest is consumed China, though it's not without its detractors there. Last July the government announced that it would be banning shark fin soup at official banquets. And National People's Congress deputy Guo Guangchang told the Global Times, a state-run paper, that he was in favor of the ban because the shark trade was ecologically unsound and he thought the soup was actually potentially harmful to human health.
"It's difficult for the human body to absorb the nutrients in shark fin, plus there are excessive levels of lead and mercury in it," he said. Shark fins have been linked to neurotoxins that can cause Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Shark Fin Trade Officially Banned In New York State
Governor Andrew Cuomo officially signed off on a law banning the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins in the state of New York, to the great relief of environmentalists who say up to 73 million sharks are used to make shark fin soup each year.
Legislation for the ban passed unanimously in both chambers in May. Critics have argued that the dish is an integral part of traditional Chinese culture, but the Chinese government itself last year announced the soup would no longer be served at official state banquets, so. so much for that!
Shark fins are often obtained through the process of "finning," which involves slicing off the animal's fin and then tossing it back into the water, leaving it to bleed to death or drown. For this reason, paired with dwindling shark populations, environmental advocates are thrilled by the ban.
“New York will no longer be a haven for the cruel and unsustainable trade in shark fins," Patrick Kwan, director of grassroots organizing for the Humane Society, said in a statement. "The Empire State has long taken action to protect other threatened and endangered species such as tigers and elephants, now we’re taking action to protect sharks and help end the cruelty of shark finning worldwide.”
But the expensive Asian delicacy is about to go off menus across New York,
making environmentalists happy.
Legislation is now before Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to ban the sale, trade and
distribution of shark fins. Cuomo is expected to sign the bill as early as
today, according to advocates and lawmakers, who passed the measure with all but
one vote in the Senate and Assembly this spring.
Advocates of the ban say they are not targeting Chinese traditions or
culinary arts creativity, but rather the practice of collecting the fins, which
often involves fishermen slicing off the fins on a shark and then dumping the
live fish back into the ocean, unable to swim.
The fins of a shark can be worth 250 times the value of the rest of the fish,
environmentalists say, which explains the estimated 73 million sharks that can
be harvested in a year for their fins.
“It’s to the detriment of the shark population and the ecosystem of the
ocean,” said State Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Republican whose Buffalo district is a
half day’s drive from any body of water where there might be a shark.
But as chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee, Grisanti said he
was happy to sponsor the bill when wildlife and environmental groups approached
him – just as he was when he sponsored legislation two years ago to ban the sale
of bear gallbladders, used for medicinal purposes in some cultures.
More than a dozen environmental and wildlife conservation groups are
targeting New York, saying the state has fallen behind the West Coast and states
like Maryland, Delaware and Illinois where shark fin sales have been
New York restaurants are a leading purchaser of shark fins, and the New York
City port system is a major hub for sending shark fins around the world, the
“New York should not be a haven for cruel, wasteful and unsustainable trade
in shark fins,’’ a group of advocates, including the Humane Society, Greenpeace,
National Wildlife Federation and the Shark Research Institute, recently wrote to
Cuomo, urging him to sign the bill.
Dozens of restaurants in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn offer the expensive
dish, according to one shark tracking group, at a cost of hundreds of dollars
for a large bowl. Chinatown wholesalers can charge close to $1,000 per pound for
top-quality shark fins, which can be sold dried, wet or frozen and are more
noticeable for their texture in a soup than taste.
Toronto, home to a large Chinese population, banned shark fin sales, but
restaurants sued, and an Ontario court last year reversed the ban.
In Western New York, a spot check of online Chinese restaurant menus found
plenty of hot and spicy soup offerings, but not shark fin soup.
One exception is Koi, a restaurant at the Seneca Nation’s Niagara Falls
At Koi, a bowl of shark fin soup fetches $28, but with upstate being upstate,
that’s a relative bargain compared with the $100 or more some servings can cost
in New York City restaurants.
The restaurant seeks to deliver authentic Chinese delicacies, but the shark
fin soup is often hard to find from suppliers, so its offering is limited, said
Jim Wise, senior vice president of marketing at the Seneca Gaming Corp.
“Should the state ban the sale, we will strike it from the menu,” he
But a top Buffalo chef likened the shark fin movement to the attempts over
the years to get duck foie gras banned in New York.
“It really scares me when the government tries to use food and culture to
make a statement about something that isn’t really of their concern,” said Mike
Andrzejewski, who owns several Buffalo restaurants, including Seabar. He joked,
sort of, about putting shark fin on the menu this weekend.
Peter How, a restaurateur in Queens, said he is seeing more and more
customers electing to skip ordering shark fin soup. “I believe it is simply a
global trend for environmental concern,” said How, president of the Asian
American Restaurant Association.
While animal rights advocates have had no statewide success in pushing bans
on the sale of duck foie gras, several groups quietly moved this year to push
the shark protection measure.
If, as expected, Cuomo signs the bill, it is uncertain whether some
restaurants will sue to stop the ban. That was done successfully in Toronto but
unsuccessfully in California.
Much of the shark fin supply comes from worldwide fishing sources, though
shark protection groups say New York fishermen have also gotten into the
lucrative “finning” business. Shark finning is already illegal in New York and
federal waters, but animal rights groups say that the laws are routinely ignored
and that a specific ban on the sale of shark fins is needed to push restaurants
away from putting it on their menus.
Moreover, given the long time it takes for sharks to mature, the practice of
killing sharks is endangering some species. A recent study by the State
University at Stony Brook and the Field Museum in Chicago found the fins of
endangered species, such as the Great White, showing up in fin soup.
A US ban on shark fins is a bad idea, say researchers
Earlier this year, United States senators put forth S.793, a bill they've named the "Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act". With the noble goal of protecting shark populations, which are in decline all over the globe, the document proposes a total ban on the buying or selling of shark fins in the US. Sounds like an unambiguously good thing, right? Well, the straightforward answer to a problem is not always the best one – and some shark researchers worry that this approach could do more harm than good.
In a recently published paper, shark researchers David Shiffman and Robert Hueter argue that banning trade in fins would not prevent many shark deaths at all – but it might hinder successful conservation practices, and sow confusion by misrepresenting the true threats to these animals. What they recommend instead is prioritising the continued sustainable management of shark fishing.
The finning issue
Let's start with the broad problem: sharks are in trouble. And losing them is a threat not only for the ecosystems in which they serve important roles, but also for economies all over the globe that rely on them for food, including the United States. Worldwide, many populations are dwindling, their decline driven largely by overfishing, including hunting for meat, bycatch, as well as the lucrative fin trade, which supplies demand in some countries for a delicacy known as shark-fin soup.
This fin trade has led to a phenomenon called shark finning. As the bill describes, "Shark finning is the cruel practice in which the fins of a shark are cut off on board a fishing vessel at sea. The remainder of the animal is then thrown back into the water to drown, starve, or die a slow death." This practice is not only cruel, but also wasteful – in contrast with conservative shark-fishing practices that make use of meat and parts from the entire body.
Shark finning has actually been banned in the US since the 1990s, but as long as the animal's body is not discarded at sea, fishers are generally free to do what they will with the fins indeed, these are typically harvested along with the meat. The new bill, however, presented by Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, proposes a total ban on possessing, transporting, selling or purchasing shark fins, under threat of a fine of up to $100,000 or more.
The idea isn't new. This sort of restriction is already in place in 12 US states and three territories, and several major companies have joined in support. The senators on the new bill, along with supporting organisations like Oceana, want to see this prohibition expanded to the entire country. Proponents believe a total ban would allow the US to crack down on illegal finning nationwide: since it's impossible to tell if a fin was collected through finning once it's removed, they say a ban will ensure shark finning is not lucrative within US borders, while still allowing legal fisheries to continue collecting meat.
Shiffman and Hueter, however, are opposed to this for a number of reasons. For one, they argue that a ban wouldn't actually accomplish the goal of directly reducing shark deaths. They point out that US imports and exports make up only around one percent of the global fin trade, so restrictions here will not make a significant impact. What's more, the researchers worry that a law requiring fins to be discarded could incentivise fisheries to catch even more sharks, or target new species to make up the difference in product, a scenario that could actually put more pressure on shark populations.
Setting an example
A major question in this debate is how a US fin ban might affect other countries' actions. Supporters suggest it will serve as a model for other nations to follow, while opponents are concerned it will instead undermine the position of the US as a leader in sustainable shark fishing.
The bill itself suggests, "Abolition of the shark fin trade in the United States will remove the United States from the global shark fin market and will put the United States in a stronger position to advocate internationally for abolishing the shark fin trade in other countries."
Mariah Pfleger, marine scientist at Oceana, also takes this view, arguing in an email that as long as the United States is involved in the fin trade, it continues to provide incentive for nations that continue finning. "We cannot go to other countries and ask them for better protections for sharks if we are providing economic incentives for them to behave badly."
But the authors of the new paper disagree. "The US has long been a leader in promoting sustainable fisheries at home and abroad. Getting out of a market entirely removes our ability to push for positive change within that market," notes Shiffman, a postdoctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University, in an email.
Shiffman and Hueter would rather see the US continue to stand as a model for good fishing practices right now, the country's fisheries account for more than 75% of the world's sustainable shark fishing, following tried and tested measures like hunting quotas, species-specific restrictions, open and closed hunting seasons, and the reduction of wastefulness. This line of thinking is shared by other scientists, too: another recent study led by Shiffman found that nine out of ten shark experts recommend sustainable shark fishing over a total ban.
"The goal of this ban is to save sharks from overexploitation, and we applaud that goal," said Shiffman. "However, this just isn't the best way to get there."
A complicated problem
A third concern raised by the researchers is one of public understanding. They point out that while shark finning has received a lot of attention, it is only one among many widespread threats facing these endangered marine animals.
"The threats facing sharks are complex and multifaceted," Shiffman says. "Focusing on just one part of the problem is not the solution that sharks need, particularly in this case, where a focus on part of the problem actively interferes with our ability to help solve the rest of the problem."
In fact, the fin trade has actually been declining over the past decade, while sharks remain very much in peril.
"A policy that focuses only on shark fins … risks diverting scarce management and enforcement resources away from the heart of the issue," note the researchers in the paper. "A focus on fins also oversimplifies the threats facing sharks, which can reduce political support for sustainable management."
The paper aims to provide the data and resources needed to support the arguments against the bill, but it isn't always easy to get scientific data to the attention of policy-makers. "Scientific experts like me from independent, nonprofit institutions are sometimes consulted about pending legislation, but it's rare," says Hueter, director of the Center for Shark Research at the Mote Marine Laboratory, via email. "We usually have to take the initiative to contact members of Congress."
"It's clear . that many of [the lawmakers] are not being given all the facts about the consequences of a domestic ban," Hueter adds. "Much of the argument on their side is driven by pure emotion about shark finning. Our position is to advocate for the best science available in policy decision-making."
David Moscato is a science communicator, writer and educator with a background in palaeontology. Follow him @DMos150 or on his blog, The Meniscus. VIEW more from this CONTRIBUTOR
A drop in the shark-fin ocean
The New York ban means those jars will have to be emptied by next July, when the law takes effect. But the owner of Po Wing Hong Food Market, which is New York City’s second-largest supplier of fins to Chinese restaurants, says demand has already slumped in the last few years.
“There’s not much [demand] anymore. Only for some festivals and banquets,” Patrick Ng tells Quartz. “Now, because the image, it’s [seen as] not good. The new generation—they don’t like it.” Environmental awareness and the anticipation of the ban also seem to have played a part, he said.
More to the point, US demand for shark fins plays a pretty small role in the big picture. The vast majority of fins are consumed in East Asia. The global trade is between $400 million and $550 million each year (pdf, p.18).
Hong Kong, the main fin processing center, represents about half of that trade, and its suppliers are all over the planet:
Japanese Puffer Fish
This whimsical looking fish actually houses an extremely poisonous toxin called tetrodotoxin in its skin and even in certain organs. This toxin is known to cause paralysis and even death. With this in mind, you may wonder, why would anyone want to consume this dish? Apparently, it's regarded as a delicacy in the sushi world where it's more widely known as fugu. Consumption of the fish is almost entirely banned in the United States, with the exception of a few sellers who are permitted to have a license.
RELATED: Your guide to the anti-inflammatory diet that heals your gut, slows the signs of aging, and helps you lose weight.
Shark Conservation Act
Sharks are among the ocean's top predators and are vital to the natural balance of marine ecosystems. They are also a valuable recreational species and food source. To help protect these important marine species, the United States has some of the strongest shark management measures worldwide. Under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), NOAA Fisheries manages sharks in U.S. federal waters using fishery management plans.
The Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 amended the MSA to prohibit shark finning—a process of removing shark fins at sea and discarding the rest of the shark—in the United States. The law prohibits any person under U.S. jurisdiction from engaging in the finning of sharks, possessing shark fins aboard a fishing vessel without the corresponding carcass, and landing shark fins without the corresponding carcass. The Shark Finning Prohibition Act also requires NOAA Fisheries to provide Congress with an annual report describing our efforts to implement the law.
On January 4, 2011, the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 was signed into law, amending the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act and the MSA. The Shark Conservation Act requires that all sharks in the United States, with one exception, be brought to shore with their fins naturally attached. There are three rules that implement the requirements of the Shark Conservation Act:
Savings clause for individuals who commercially fish for smooth dogfish.
Domestic provisions that allow for sustainably managed shark fisheries while eliminating the harmful practice of finning.
Several states have shark fin laws that prohibit the possession and/or retention of shark fins (even if they are legally landed under the requirements of the Shark Conservation Act). Based on discussions with these states and information provided to NOAA Fisheries, we do not believe these state laws conflict with the MSA. Learn more in our exchange of letters with 10 states and territories:
Shark Finning and Fin Facts
Shark finning kills an estimated 100 million or more sharks globally per year. Tens of millions more sharks and rays are killed each year, primarily through illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU). 181 shark species are Red listed as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Shark-finning is a practice where sharks are caught and their fins are cut off, then the body of the shark is discarded. Shark fins are particularly sought after for traditional Chinese medicine and shark fin soup which is considered a delicacy in Asia. Catalyzed by the shark fin trade, large shark populations are declining globally, and many species are imminently threatened with extinction.
Pile of fresh shark fins, Indonesia Credit David McGuire
What is Shark Finning ?
Shark finning is the practice of removing the fins from a captured shark, and discarding the animal at sea, still living or dead. This reprehensible and wasteful act is largely driven by the high value placed ion the fin, and the low value off shark meat, Sharks captured as bycatch- (an untargeted animal)- in the tuna and swordfish industry were once released, but are increasingly killed for the fins. The high value and increased market for shark fins is creating huge incentive for fishermen to take the fins and discard the animal, leaving room in the ship’s hold for the more valuable meat of the tuna or swordfish. Shark finning is wasteful, inhumane and unsustainable.
Is Shark Finning Illegal?
Since 2000 several countries including the United States have adopted laws within their waters to ban this practice. A few, such as the United States and Australia, have successfully enforced these new laws, yet fins are still legally sold of from landed sharks, and Loopholes can lead to a misrepresentation of species captured, smuggling of fins, and more sharks killed than actually reported. The ICCAT and the West PAC: member commissions of Atlantic and Pacific pelagic fisheries have banned shark finning in their tuna and swordfish longline fleets. This is a good start but difficult to enforce against smugglers or poachers. Although over 100 species are listed by the IUCN as endangered or threatened, only a few species are protected from illegal trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). However, small boats and nations who do not recognize CITES or other treaties are actively shark finning and trading with impunity. The best solution to save sharks will rely on national and international efforts to regulate fisheries, and local efforts to limit consumption of shark fin and stopping the fin trade.
Shark Fin Alley, Hong Kong ©SharkStewards.org
Can Shark Fins be Sold Legally?
The shark fin trade is global and widespread. In the USA, the sale of fins is banned in 11 states including California, New York and Hawaii. However, state-level bans do not bar the import of foreign-caught shark products into the United States. The US imports shark fins from countries that do not have shark finning bans including China, India and Indonesia. Currently there are very few regulations on the sale of shark fins globally. Shark fins can be sold legally in countries with anti- finning regulations, yet the source of the fin and method killed can still be illegal. These agreements require the shark carcass to arrive at the dock with the shark, or if severed, on an agreed fin to body ratio. In some regions like the EU, this ratio is so high that it allows more sharks to be captured than reported by the actual fin weight. Most shark fins go to Hong Kong for processing, and re-exported to China and other countries like the US. Fins traded as a dried product do not have any documentation of where that shark was captured, the species or if it was legally harvested or finned on the high seas. Most shark fins are virtually unrecognizable by species. Once it is in the market or in the bowl, most consumers will not know where the fin came from, or if it was harvested legally or illegally.
What Sharks are killed for their fins?
Any shark is fair game, but some species are more prized than others. The large fins of Whale Sharks, Basking Sharks are coveted for decoration at restaurants. These species are among the most threatened. Pelagic species such as Oceanic White tip and Silky sharks are common in the high-end trade. Illegal fisheries such as those that target the Galapagos, Cocos Island reserve and other remote islands capture reef sharks and hammerhead sharks. The Blue shark is among the most common traded with an estimated 20 million killed for their fins annually.
By nature, sharks are difficult to study and good fisheries data are hard to obtain. The practice of finning, which is mostly an unreported practice is robbing scientists of population and capture data. Many pelagic shark species are widespread and do not school. Many larger sharks travel vast distances alone. Most large sharks have late onset of fertility (decades) give birth to few young and have long gestation periods, making them very vulnerable to overfishing. Therefore, it is very difficult to arrive at a sustainable number. This is why most commercial shark fisheries collapse economically.
With accurate population numbers, a good understanding of the target shark’s biology, and accurate reporting of animals captured, a sustainable fishery might be achieved. Until that is achieved and it can be enforced, then the source of fins must stop and fins made illegal.
What Sharks are Protected or Most at Risk?
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has designated Red List status to nearly 100 species of sharks. A 2015 report by the IUCN finds that over 25% of sharks, rays and skates are threatened with extinction. A 2004 study by Baum and Myers suggests that 90% of many large species have been overfished.
The United Nations Convention on the Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) lists species of concern and threatened with extinction. Only the sawfishes Sawfishes (Pristidae spp., 7 species) are protected under Appendix I of CITES. CITES listed Whale shark (Rhincodon typus) shark, Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) and Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) under Appendix II in 2003. Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) Porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) Scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) Smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena) Great hammerhead shark(Sphyrna mokarran) Manta rays (Manta spp.) were added in 2013. In 2016 Silky shark Carcharhinus falciformis, Thresher sharks Alopias spp. and Devil rays Mobula spp. were added in Appendix II.
CITES regulates import, exports and does not protect living sharks.
Great white sharks are protected under California and Federal Law from fishing commercially or recreationally. Even,fins from these protected sharks have been identified in the shark fin trade through DNA analysis.These laws regulate the trade and transport of listed species across country lines by countries that recognize the treaty. To date,169 countries have agreed to be legally bound by CITES. Nearly twice as many nations had teams in the World Cup.
In 2006 investigators performed DNA testing on wholesale shark fin distributors, discovering the fins of the few protected species in Hong Kong, Singapore and here in the US. In 2010 Shark Stewards, working with at the California Academy of Sciences sequenced 17 species of sharks from shark fins bought in San Francisco Chinatown, including threatened species like thresher sharks, and endangered hammerhead sharks. Once the fin is dried and treated, the species is nearly unidentifiable. The protections in place are not strong enough, or broad enough to protect sharks.
How are Shark Fins Used?
Shark fins are used to make shark fin soup, a delicacy once prepared exclusively for the Chinese emperors and nobility. The cartilage from the fin is carefully dried and prepared, and used as an ingredient in a soup flavored with seafood or chicken broth and herbs. The process of preparation makes this dish very costly, as much as $100.00 a bowl, and is commonly served at banquets and weddings. The serving of the dish is considered very prestigious and even propitious.
Dried shark fin is the most expensive seafood product by weight, and is creating huge incentive for fishermen to hunt sharks, solely for their fins. Sold for upwards of $1,000 per kilogram ($2,200 per pound), dried shark fin is among the highest valued seafood by weight.
Who Eats Shark Fin Soup?
Although Chinese and people of Chinese descent primarily consume the dish, the consumption is increasing in western societies with affluent consumers, Asian and non-Asian.
Around 50% of the dried fin market is brokered through Hong Kong and China is the primary market for shark fin. However, shark fin is still a major trade and is consumed widely in the USA, putting shark populations at risk. According to the UN FAO, other countries reported exporting 600 metric tons of shark fins into the United States in 2011
Shark Fin Soup is Associated with Asian Cultural Celebrations. Is This an Attack on Asian Culture?
This is an attack on an unsustainable fishing practice and trade. The cultural associations are modern, associated with prestige. The problem is simple economics: increasing affluence creates increased demand. This demand is exceeding the supply, which is creating a positive feedback loop, making the shark fins more difficult to obtain, and increasing the price, making the dish more expensive, increasing the prestige. This in turn motivates fishermen to obtain shark fins from a steadily diminishing source of sharks. Many countries have had practices associated with their cultures that were recognized as harmful or unethical and were stopped to protect wildlife.
Isn’t Shark Fin Soup Healthy?
Shark fin soup has been associated with a variety of benefits from increased virility to longer life. However, the fin is purely cartilage, the same compound in human, cow and other vertebrates. Cartilage has no nutritional value. Any benefit would come from the broth and other ingredients added. A 2012 study of fins from seven species of shark found a neurotoxin known as BMAA in 80 percent of 29 samples. A follow-up study in 2016 discovered BMAA in 87 percent of 55 fin and meat samples spanning 10 different species. BMAA may be a risk factor for several degenerative brain disorders including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS. The highest concentration of BMAA was detected in the fins.
Shark fins are also high in mercury, a known reproductive, developmental toxin and one that can cause permanent nerve and brain damage. The process of treating and drying shark fins can actually concentrate mercury and make the levels higher. The US FDA recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding women and children avoid eating sharks, swordfish and certain kinds of tuna. Fetuses, infants and children are at particular risk because their developing brains are more sensitive to disruptions from mercury and other neurotoxins.
The World Health Organization has tested shark fins and determined some fins to be so high that one bowl of soup would exceed the recommended exposure. Shark Stewards has similarly tested fins for soup and determined that people who consume shark fin soup even occasionally are at risk to high mercury levels.
Importance to Ocean Health
As apex predators, large sharks like great white sharks play an important role at the top of the marine food chain. Removing these top predators creates an imbalance called a trophic cascade leading to less abundnace and declining ecosystem health. Without them, the entire food chain can be affected, negatively impacting the entire ecosystem, including fish humans love to eat.
Large shark populations are plummeting due to overfishing and the shark fin trade. In general this group of fish is slow growing, late maturing, and produce few young compared to other fishes. These characteristics make them especially vulnerable to exploitation by humans.
Shark Fin Banned in New York State - Recipes
Some towns, cities, states, and countries have realized that rodeos belong to the Dark Ages, and have made moves to eliminate or restrict this cruel, needless excuse for entertainment. Rodeo propagandists like to claim that their industry is a "true American sport", but this listing shows that people all across America are rejecting rodeo's abuse.
Below is a partial listing, as more and more places realize every year that rodeo's victims deserve protection. Alert your local authorities if you find any of these laws being violated in your area!
Within the United States
Outside the United States
- The United Kingdom prohibits rodeos.
- Australia's Capitol Territories prohibit rodeos.
- Auckland, New Zealand, the country's largest city, prohibits rodeos on Council-owned land .
- Germany prohibits calf roping.
- Vancouver, Canada prohibits calf roping.
- Cloverdale Rodeo in British Columbia, Canada banned calf roping, team roping, cowboy cow milking and steer wrestling.
- State of South Australia and Victoria, Australia have eliminated the "sport" roping of small animals (calves, goats, etc.) by a requiring animals to weigh at least 200 kg.
- Bauru, Arealva, and Avai, Brazil, ban electric prods, flank straps, and spurs.
- Santo André, São Caetano, Franca, and Diadema in São Paulo, Brazil, prohibit rodeos.
- The Netherlands has banned the USA rodeo.
Shark Finning Legislation
Currently, there are thirteen states and three US territories that control shark finning by banning the sale and possession of shark fins. New Jersey also passed such a ban, effective January 1, 2021. Although the states have varied exceptions and statutory penalties for violations, all the bans make it unlawful for any person to possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute shark fins within that jurisdiction.
Hawaii (Haw. Rev. Stat. § 188-40.7)
Prohibits the “possession, sale, and distribution of shark fins.”
- Date Effective: July 1, 2010
- Statutory Penalties: for 1 st offense, fine of $5,000 to $15,000 for 3 rd offense, fine of $35,000 to $50,000 and up to 1 year in prison
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (PL 17-27)
Prohibits the “possession, selling, offering for sale, trading, or distributing shark fins.”
- Date Effective: January 26, 2011
- Statutory Penalties: fine of $5,000 to $30,000 and up to 6 months in prison
Guam (5 G.C.A. § 63114.1)
Makes it unlawful to “possess, sell, offer for sale, take, purchase, barter, transport, export, import, trade or distribute shark fins.”
- Date Effective: March 9, 2011
- Statutory Penalties: felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, and fines of $500 to $5,000 per violation
American Samoa (24 A.S.A.C. § 24.0961)
Prohibits the “possession, delivery, carry, transport or shipment” of shark products
- Date Effective: November 1, 2012
- Statutory Penalties: Class B misdemeanor for each offense, punishable by a fine up to $500 and up to 6 months in prison a business entity in violation is subject to at least a $1000 fine
Washington (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 77.15.770)
Prohibits the “sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins.”
- Date Effective: July 22, 2011
- Statutory Penalties: for 1 st offense, a gross misdemeanor punishable by suspension of commercial fishing privileges for 1 year for 2 nd offense, a Class C felony if the shark fin is worth more than $250, punishable by suspension of commercial fishing privileges for 1 year
Oregon (Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 498.257)
Prohibits “possessing, selling, offering for sale, trading or distributing shark fins.”
- Date Effective: January 1, 2012
- Statutory Penalties: Class A misdemeanor for 1 st offense, fine of up to $2,500
California (Cal. Fish & Game Code Ann. § 2021-2021.5)
Makes it unlawful to “possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute a shark fin.”
- Date Effective: July 1, 2013
- Statutory Penalties: up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine per offense
Maryland (Md. Nat. Res. Code Ann. § 4-747)
Bans the “sale, purchase and transportation of sharkfins without the shark’s carcass.”
- Date Effective: October 1, 2013
- Statutory Penalties: for 1 st offense, fine of up to $1,000 for 2 nd offense, fine of up to $2,000 and up to 1 year in prison
Illinois (Il. Fish & Aq. Life Code Ann. § 5-30)
Makes it unlawful to “possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute a shark fin.”
- Date Effective: January 1, 2013
- Statutory Penalties: Class A misdemeanor where shark is valued at less than $300 is punishable by a fine up to $2,500 and 1 year in prison, or Class 3 or 4 felony where shark is valued at more than $300, is punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison
Delaware (Del. Code Ann. tit. 7 § 928A)
Bans the“possession, sale, offer for sale, and distribution of shark fins.”
- Date Effective: January 1, 2014
- Statutory Penalties: Class B environmental misdemeanor for each offense, punishable by a fine of $250 to $1,000.
New York (N.Y. Envtl. Conserv. Law § 13-0338)
Prohibits the “possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins without the shark's carcass.”
- Date Effective: July 1, 2014
- Statutory Penalties: imprisonment up to 15 days or minimum fine of $250
Massachusetts (MA Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 130 § 106)
Makes it unlawful to “possess, sell, offer for sale, trade or distribute a shark fin.”
- Date Effective: September 1, 2014
- Statutory Penalties: fine of $500 to $1,000 and up to 60 days in jail, as well as possible suspension of all fishing privileges
Texas (Section 66.2161, Parks and Wildlife Code)
Prohibits “possession, sale and purchase of shark fins or products derived from shark fins.”
- Date Effective: July 1, 2016
- Statutory Penalties: Class B misdemeanor, for 1 st offense Class A for additional offense within five years
Rhode Island (RI Gen. Laws § 20-1-29)
Prohibits any person from participating in the “sale, possession, trade and distribution of shark fins” in the state.
- Date Effective: July 1, 2017
- Statutory Penalties: fine minimum of $500 and no more than $1,000, or imprisonment up to 90 days, or both imprisonment and a fine.
Nevada (NV NRS CH. 597 § 2-3)
Makes it illegal to “purchase, sell, offer for sale or possess with intent to sell any item” made with shark fins.
- Date Effective: January 1, 2018
- Statutory Penalties: 1 st is a misdemeanor, 2 nd is guilty of category E felony, and third offense and all subsequent offenses are a category D felony. Following all criminal charges is a civil penalty not to exceed $6,500 or “an amount equal to four times the fair market value of the item which is the subject of the violation, whichever is greater.”
New Jersey (N.J.S.A. 23:2B-23)
Prohibits the “sale, trade, or distribution of shark fin, or the possession of shark fin that has been separated from a shark prior to its lawful landing”.
- Date Effective: January 1, 2021
- Statutory Penalties: A fine of $5,000 to $15,000 for the 1 st offense, $15,000 to $35,000 for the 2 nd offense, and $35,000 to $55,000 with imprisonment for up to 1 year for a 3 rd or subsequent offense.
Florida (Section 379.2426, Fla. Stat.)
Prohibits the possession “in or on the waters of this state a shark fin that has been separated from a shark or land a separated shark fin in this state” and the “import, export, and sale of separated shark fins”.