02:00 PM

Sharks need some California love this Valentine’s Day

New state bill would close California to shark fin trade


  • Legislation introduced today would ensure that California ceases to be both a major supplier and consumer of shark fins through a ban on the possession, sale, trade and distribution of fins.
  • Every year people kill up to 73 million sharks for shark fin soup, a practice that is both wasteful and unsustainable.
  • Many shark populations have collapsed worldwide due to overfishing, with some populations declining as much as 90-99%.
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (02/14/2011) -

On a holiday known for its generosity, sharks are hoping to get one very special Valentine’s Day gift from California’s Assembly members: to keep their fins, and with that, their lives.

And they may just get their wish. California Assembly members Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) are introducing a bill that would ensure that California ceases to be both a major supplier and consumer of shark fins through a ban on the possession, sale, trade and distribution of fins.

“With many shark populations rapidly collapsing around the globe due to finning practices, it’s exciting to think that California can make a real difference to the future of these species. This is a state bill that could have global impacts and international implications for sharks. And it’s absolutely necessary for these species’ survival,” said Jim Curland, marine program associate for Defenders of Wildlife. “If this legislation passes, Assembly members Fong and Huffman will be heroes, leading the way for shark conservation in California and beyond.”


Over 73 million sharks are killed each year by finning, a process that involves cutting off the shark’s fins, often while it is still alive, and throwing the shark back overboard where it will sink to the ocean floor and eventually die.  

Since sharks are slow to reach sexual maturity and produce few offspring, scientists warn that shark populations cannot withstand current harvest rates. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has estimated that 30 percent of open ocean sharks are now threatened with extinction.  

Previously, laws in California still allowed finning but required fisherman to bring the entire shark carcass back to port, making it more difficult for fishermen to harvest fins. This bill is designed to eliminate California’s shark fin market completely by outlawing the possession, sale, trade and distribution of fins altogether and is similar to legislation enacted in Hawaii in 2010. This will have a significant impact because California remains a major import market, with San Diego and Los Angeles ranking among the top entry points for shark fin products.

The bill introduced today is supported by The Humane Society of the United States, Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance, the Ocean Conservancy, Heal the Bay, Natural Resources Defense Council, California Coastkeeper Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment California, WildAid, Pacific Environment, Let Sharks Live, Food Empowerment Project, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Oceana.


Read more about California’s proposed legislation to 
promote healthy shark populations and the ocean.

Read the IUCN release on the percentage of shark populations now threatened with extinction.


Jim Curland, (831) 726-9010
Brian Bovard, (202) 772-0284