Mounting Global Pressures Spell Trouble for Illegal Shark Fin Trade

At many Chinese restaurants in the United States, there’s a special dish called shark fin soup. It’s expensive — a delicacy and status symbol in Chinese culture that’s served during banquets.

The soup is a hotly debated item in both the scientific and political communities, and it’s illegal in 12 states, including Hawaii, Illinois and Texas.

Now, Congress is once again considering a federal ban on the shark fin trade.

Two bipartisan bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, would make it illegal to possess, buy, sell or transport shark fins in the United States. House and Senatepoliticians introduced similar bills last year, but they didn’t make it out of committee.

The new Senate bill asserts that many shark populations are in peril worldwide, and that some fishermen harvest shark fins by finning, a “cruel practice in which the fins of a shark are cut off” on a ship at sea, and the rest of the animal is “then thrown back into the water to drown, starve or die a slow death.”

Photo: Andrei Voinigescu/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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