California is One Big Step Closer to Protecting Sharks & Our Oceans
Posted June 28, 2011 in Reviving the World's Oceans
This afternoon, California came one important step closer to banning the sale, trade and distribution of shark fins. Assembly Bill 376 passed out of the Senate Natural Resources & Water Committee with the support of Senators Pavley, LaMalfa, Evans, Kehoe, Padilla, Wolk, and Simitian. This bill will help protect the estimated 26 – 73 million sharks killed each year for their fins, which are used to meet the exploding demand for shark fin soup. The bill's next stop is the Senate Appropriations Committee.
California is one of the largest markets for shark fins outside of Asia; the ban will deter finning in international waters by ending the fin trade here. More than 1/3 of shark species are threatened with extinction as a result of the international shark fin trade, with some populations declined by 99%. This morning, the Sacramento Bee carried an excellent article about the importance of this bill, discussing how the opposition critiques are misguided and inaccurate.
Photo by Justin Henry, via Flickr
Thanks to all our supporters in California who spoke out for sharks, sending thousands of emails and calling their state senators. NRDC, Wild Aid, and the Humane Society joined forces with dozens of other organizations, a host of celebrities, including Leonardo Di Caprio, Yao Ming, Edward Norton, Ben Stiller, Anthony Keidis, Flea, Scarlett Johansson, Ian Somerhalder, and many more to ask for support of the bill. Thanks to everyone who took the time to speak out for these amazing ocean predators!
Clearing this Committee is one of the multiple hurdles the bill faces, but if it passes, California will be among the leaders in the global campaign to protect sharks. In May, Washington joined Hawaii and passed a bill that bans the sale, trade or distribution of shark fins or derivative products in Washington. Around the world, coastal communities are realizing that sharks play an important role in keeping our oceans healthy. Palau,Guam and The Northern Mariana Islands have taken action to protect sharks because they recognize the value of these large predators to their economies, which are closely tied to healthy oceans and benefit from shark tourism.
Awareness of shark finning and illegal poaching is growing and so is outrage over the misuse and abuse of our ocean resources. We will need our supporters to stay involved to help fight back against the opposition who is trying to weaken it, and look out for Action Alerts as the bill advances. Now is also the time to insist that our leaders go to the Earth Summit next year in Rio and take action to protect sharks around the world and preserve the health of our oceans.
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