On Thursday, Assembly Bill 376, which would ban the sale, trade and possession of shark fins in the state of California, cleared the state Senate Appropriations Committee on a 5-2 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate floor, where a vote is expected in the next couple of weeks.
Shark fin is the main ingredient in the Chinese delicacy, shark fin soup, which can fetch up to $100 USD a bowl. Every year, fins from up to 73 million sharks are used for shark fin soup. The practice, known as finning, is a gruesome processes by which the fins are sliced off (often while the animal is still alive), and then the shark is tossed back into the ocean to drown or bleed to death. Consequently, more than half of open-ocean sharks are threatened with extinction. Since sharks are apex predators, their removal would lead to disastrous consequences throughout the entire marine ecosystem.
If AB376 is passed, California would join Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii where similar legislation has been passed.