Signed in October 2011 by Governor Jerry Brown, the legislation preventing store owners and restaurants from selling and serving shark fins was enacted. Restaurant owners were able to sell their supply until July 1. A violation of the shark fin prevention can cause up to six months in jail or a fine of $1000.
Shark fins is a common ingredient in the Chinese delicacy shark fin soup provided at social functions and weddings. As the legislation came to a vote in 2011, many restaurant owners showed their disagreement as a restriction to their traditions and culture. The ban spurred disagreements between saving centuries worth of tradition and the 88 to 100 million sharks used for finning each year. According to statistics, if the finning continues, sharks can become extinct in 10 to 20 years.
The Shark Life Conservation Group states that, “Of all shark products, the fins have by far the highest commercial value by weight. Demand for shark fin has expanded dramatically in the last 15 years.” Many argue that this law was put in place as a noble reason to save shark life or to discriminate the targeted Chinese citizens.
This ban was proposed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries management division, the National Marine Fisheries Services, whose vision is to protect the oceanic animals as they state that, “As one of the top predators of the oceans, sharks play an important role in the food web and help ensure balance in the ocean’s ecosystem. As demand and exploitation rates for some shark species and shark products (i.e., fins) have increased, concern has steadily grown regarding the status of many shark stocks and the unsustainability in global fisheries.”
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