February 17, 2011

Love is in the Air...for Sharks!

On Monday, February 14th, 2011 love was in the air...for sharks that is. AB 376 was introduced to the California Assembly by lawmakers Paul Fong, D-Cupertino and Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael. This bill would end all California trade in shark fins, which are used to make a Chinese delicacy, shark fin soup. A similar ban was enacted in Hawaii in 2010 and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands just last month.

The California market for this very expensive dish is aiding the raging shark finning in international waters. The act of shark finning is one of the worst forms of animal cruelty, the shark is caught and held down while it's fins are cut off. The shark, still alive, is not worth much money and is then thrown back into the ocean defenseless and bleed to death. Due to the Shark Conservation act of 2010, it is now illegal to throw the shark back into the water after finning in US waters, you must take on that weight leading to less sharks dying and a less cruel death. However, this practice goes unenforced and has not changed the industry.

Sharks have lived on this earth nearly unchanged for 400 million years, they are a keystone species for the marine ecosystem and without them it could fall apart. The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) found that 32% of open ocean sharks are threatened by extinction mainly due to overfishing. If we continue to fish these sharks the way we are, the marine ecosystem will become highly unbalanced and could have devastating consequences.

What can you do? Sign the petition to support AB 376. Talk to your local California assembly members and urge them to vote yes on this bill. Always make sure to eat only sustainable seafood, approved by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Guide. The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors wrote a letter of support, you can too. And lastly and obviously, do not eat shark fin soup, there is a good chance you would be eating an endangered species.

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