Gov. Jerry Brown outlaws sale, possession of shark fins


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Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed a bill that outlaws the sale and possession of shark fins in California, despite protests from some Chinese American leaders that it deprived their community of an ingredient for a traditional soup.

Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) introduced AB 376 in an attempt to stop what he and several environmental groups argue is a brutal practice that is wiping out large numbers of sharks. Many times, fishermen remove the fins from sharks and throw the rest of the carcass back in the water, Fong said.


“The practice of cutting the fins off of living sharks and dumping them back in the ocean is not only cruel, but it harms the health of our oceans,” Brown said in a statement.

Supporters said that millions of sharks are killed each year and that the harvest is threatening the existence of some species. The governor agreed.

“Researchers estimate that some shark populations have declined by more than 90%, portending grave threats to our environment and commercial fishing,’’ Brown said. ‘In the interest of future generations, I have signed this bill.”

Those who opposed the legislation included Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who had labeled the bill ‘an unfair attack on Asian culture and cuisine.’

Brown signed a companion measure by Fong, AB 853, that allows existing stocks of on-hand shark fins to be sold until July 1, 2013.

-- Patrick McGreevy