demand for shark fins is helping to fuel dramatic shark
population declines and pushing some sharks toward
Most shark fins come from a process called “finning,” where
the fins and tails are cut from living sharks, and the
remainder of the fish, which is often still alive, is
thrown back into the ocean. Mutilated and no longer able to
swim, sharks thrown back overboard then sink to the bottom
of the ocean, bleeding, drowning, and eaten by other
species. This practice is ruthlessly efficient because it
enables fishing crews to throw out low-value unmarketable
shark carcasses and retain space for only the high-value
Sharks continue to be slaughtered for their fins even
though the practice of finning is illegal in federal
Driving this market for fins is shark fin soup, an often
very expensive dish associated with affluence. Shark fin
itself has neither taste nor nutritional value, but gives
the soup a gelatinous texture. Unfortunately, the
ingredient is very high in mercury and the FDA warns that
it could be dangerous to consumers’ health.
Now scientists warn that shark populations cannot sustain
these current slaughter rates driven by the demand for
past 15 years there has been an 89% decline in hammerhead
sharks in the Northwest Atlantic and a 99% decline of
oceanic whitetip sharks in the Gulf of Mexico.
makes matters worse is sharks cannot reproduce as quickly
as other fish. Sharks reach reproductive maturity after ten
or more years. This makes it even more difficult for sharks
to recover from relentless overfishing.
For over 400 million years sharks, the ocean’s top
predator, have kept populations of other fish healthy and
in proper proportion for their ecosystem. Their depletion
will tip this delicate balance and cause long-term damage
to an ocean full of species that sustain local economies,
provide jobs and feed billions of people. In fact,
scientists have already begun to record ocean ecosystem
health risks as a result of shark declines.
Unfortunately, current laws that ban the practice of shark
finning are insufficient to save sharks. Federal law does
not ban the shark fin trade and so sharks continue to be
slaughtered for their fins.
has banned the trade in its state, and other states like
Oregon are in the process of banning the trade. Sharks, and
ultimately the health of our ocean, will continue to be in
peril until we enact laws to stop the trade.
California represents a significant market for shark fins
in the United States, and this demand helps drive the
practice of shark finning and declining shark populations.
to a 2005 report to Congress by the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), San Diego and Los
Angeles are two of the top United States entry points for
shark fin imports.
Shark Fin Is Toxic & Threatens Asian Pacific Islander
director of Mote Marine Laboratory's Center for Shark
Research in Sarasota, Robert Hueter, spent five years
studying samples from a variety of shark species caught off
the coasts of Florida, including the two most-popular
commercially-caught species. He found that for the 124
sharks that they sampled, approximately one-third of them
came in with mercury levels that were over the Food and
Drug Administration's action level of one part per million.
Fin As Medicine Is A Myth. The
results of a study sponsored by the National Cancer
Institute, and led by
Dr. Charles Lu of the
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, were
presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of
Clinical Oncology on June 2, 2007 in Chicago and found that
cancer patients treated with extracts from shark cartilage
lifespan than patients receiving a placebo.
That A Shark Fin Ban Discriminates Against Chinese
Diminishes The Community’s Credibility On True Civil Rights
claims that AB 376 is discriminatory are based solely on
political convenience, not fact. The ban on shark fin is a
necessary measure to remove the unique and immediate threat
that shark finning poses to ocean health, NOT because shark
fin soup is associated with a specific ethnic community or
custom. APA organizations and community leaders with
decades of work defending civil rights and fighting against
racial discrimination are in support of AB 376.
The Monterey Bay
The Kerolus Center
The Aquarium of the
The California Academy of
The Humane Society