Excellent news out of Sacramento, where legislation to ban the shark fin trade in California cleared an important hurdle.
On Thursday, the state Senate Appropriations Committee voted 5-2 for AB 376, which would outlaw the import, sale and possession of shark fins -- further reducing the economic incentive that drives the slaughter tens of millions of sharks each year around the world.
The bill, authored by Assemblymembers Paul Fong and Jared Huffman, now goes to the full senate for approval. If it passes, it would head to Gov. Jerry Brown to be signed into law. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is lead sponsor of the legislation, and part of a coalition of Asian Pacific Island organizations and conservation groups that are working hard to win passage this month.
While the bill passed the state Assembly by an overwhelming margin, it's been a tougher fight in the state senate -- especially after restaurateurs and shark-fin traders hired some of the top lobbyists in the state capital to make the case that the ban is an assault on Asian culture. (This, although the bill's co-author, Assemblyman Paul Fong, is himself Chinese born. He told the Los Angeles Times: “I'm proud of my Chinese roots, and our culture will live and survive without shark's fin.”)
Californians can take action for sharks by contacting their state senators to urge support for AB 376. If it becomes law, California would join Hawaii, Washington and Oregon -- which have all banned the shark fin trade in the past year.
Photo credit: Iris Ho, Humane Society International