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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Shark Fin Soup Ban in Hawaii

Hawaii has become the first state in the US to ban shark fin soup.  The ban becomes effective July 1, 2010 and bans the possession, sale and distribution of shark fin.  The bill, signed by Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle, has become the model legislation for groups and people trying to have similar laws passed in the US, Canada and even Hong Kong.

According to environmental groups, millions of sharks per year are harvested solely for their fins and blame the shark trade as a primary cause of the worldwide decline in sharks.  Some shark species have suffered declines of 90% and more.

Hawaii's new law carries with it fines of $5,000 to $50,000 for the first offense and up to a year in jail for repeat offenders.

With a shark fin market that is small compared with China and Japan, many view this law as a symbolic statement for the protection of sharks.  This follows on the heals of the United Nations rejecting a ban on fishing for hammerhead sharks proposed by the US at the CITES convention this past March.

Sharks are highly vulnerable to overfishing because they take relatively long to reach maturity and have few young. Some experts contend that one third of the worlds 64 species of open water sharks currently face extinction.