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California Shark Fin Ban Becomes Law

Governor Jerry Brown signed the California shark fin ban, AB 376, into law on Friday, making California the the fourth state to pass a ban on the sale of shark fins.

Shark finning is a process by which commercial fishermen catch sharks, slice off their fins and tails, then throw the fish back into the water to die. Up to 73 million sharks are killed through finning every year, pushing some shark populations to decline by as much as 90 percent in recent years. About 85 percent of U.S. shark fin consumption occurs in California.

The bill’s passage marks a huge win for the Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance (APA Alliance), an organization formed to give voice to Asian Americans who support the ban on the sale of shark fins. Bill Wong, a member of the APA Alliance, recruited more than 25,000 people to join petition on the website Change.org calling for passage of the ban.

“We applaud Governor Brown for signing AB 376,” said Bill Wong. “It puts California at the forefront of the global effort to save sharks led by a broad coalition of Asian Pacific Americans, conservationists, animal rights activists, commercial fishermen, business leaders and artists. The passage of this bill may just be the tipping point that will preserve the shark species and the ocean ecosystem.”

AB 376 passed in the state senate in early September, giving Governor Brown until October 9th to either veto the legislation or sign it into law. Despite lobbyists for fin importers and the restaurant industry pressuring Gov. Brown to veto AB 376, he signed the bill into law on October 7th.

“The APA Alliance started a petition on Change.org in support of AB 376 even before the bill was put up for legislative proposal,” said Sarah Parsons, Senior Organizer at Change.org. “The organization has worked to build momentum for this legislation for months, successfully getting many members of the Asian American community to support AB 376. It has been encouraging to watch people from across the state come together to express their support for a shark fin ban.”

The ban goes into effect on January 1, 2012, but businesses and individuals can sell shark fins obtained before the ban went into effect until July 1, 2013. California is now the fourth U.S. state to enact a ban on the sale of shark fins, joining Hawaii, Washington, and Oregon.