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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Enviro Groups Join Ranks to Try to Bring an End to Shark Finning

• Rally on Saturday Draws Attention to Legislation that Would Ban the Practice in California

BY KAYLA BROWN

Local environmental groups are organizing public efforts to protect all endangered shark species from one of the more gruesome fates that await them at sea—shark finning.
Shark finning is the catching of sharks, removal of their fins for commercial use, and the disposal of the rest of the animal back into the ocean.
Definned sharks are usually alive when they are tossed back into the sea, but they are not able to swim. They sink to the bottom and become the reverse of their regular order in the marine food chain.
Any shark is considered fair game, regardless of age, size, or species. Finning is a lucrative trade, with a pound of dried shark fin selling for $300 to $400, or more.
Shark finning has increased during the last 20 years due to the demand for shark fins for shark fin soup, considered a delicacy, and its role in traditional medications and elixirs.
Millions of sharks are reportedly killed each year for their fins, and experts express concern that some already endangered species will disappear.
Shark finning violates the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's International Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks.
The U.N. Convention on the Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) lists the whale shark, basking shark, and great white shark as species that could become threatened if trade is not controlled. Close to 200 countries have agreed to abide by this.
According to a press release from the local group Heal the Bay, the “ruthless practice” of shark fin amputation has to be stopped in California.
According to the Heal the Bay announcement, California is considered to be “one of the top entry points for imported fins.”
The group states that is why it has joined ranks with numerous environmentally-friendly organizations, including Shark Savers and The Humane Society, local businesses, families, and community leaders to hold a rally on Saturday, Aug. 13, to bring awareness and show support for Assembly Bill 376.
AB 376 is a measure restricting all possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins. The state currently has existing laws enforcing bird, mammal, and fish provisions via the Fish and Game Code, but AB 376 will specifically apply to shark species.
Heal the Bay says sharks are “critical to maintaining the balance of marine life in our oceans,” and AB 376 will not only save the sharks, but will save the ocean waters as well.
While the bill has been approved by the California Assembly, it faces a committee vote on Monday, Aug. 15.
The upcoming vote and ensuing effort in the State Senate has motivated the environmental community to spread the word and fuel the fight to save the sharks and marine ecosystem.
The Aug. 13 rally will take place from 10 to 11 a.m. at the entrance of Manhattan Beach Pier in Manhattan Beach.
Heal the Bay issued an invitation to all who love the ocean to come out and join in deep sea festivities, including education stations, craft areas and puppet shows designed to “inform and inspire.”

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