Shark Fin Ban Signed Into Law

A worker cut a shark fin at Muncar Port on May 25, 2014 in Banyuwangi, Indonesia.
A worker cut a shark fin at Muncar Port on May 25, 2014 in Banyuwangi, Indonesia. –Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images

Cape Cod’s booming shark tourism business can breathe a little easier today: Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a bill banning the possession or sale of shark fins in the state.

According to The Boston Globe, though it is illegal to remove a shark’s fin in this country, shark fin soup remains a popular (and expensive) menu item in Chinatown restaurants. The vast majority of those fins come from Hong Kong. Starting September 1, anyone caught selling shark fin soup (or shark fin anything) from could be fined between $500 and $1,000 as well as sentenced to up to 60 days in jail.

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“With the passing of this law, Massachusetts builds upon its long history of animal protection and environmental stewardship,’’ Patrick said in a statement.

There are exceptions, however. Scientists using shark fins for research may possess them and certain locally caught species such as skate, smoothhounds and spiny dogfish are not covered by the ban. According to Shark Advocates International, smoothhounds and spiny dogfish are “among the world’s most heavily fished sharks.’’

State Senator Jason Lewis and Representative David Nangle introduced bills banning shark fin possession and distribution last summer, while 9-year-old shark lover Sean Lesniak, of Lowell, spoke out in its support to the House Judiciary Committee after seeing a documentary about the declining shark population. He was in attendance for the bill’s signing, the Gloucester Times said.

Tens of millions of sharks are hunted for their fins every year, according to the Humane Society, and some shark populations have declined by 98 percent due to the practice, the Guardian reported. The fin is usually removed while the shark is still alive. It is then thrown back into the ocean to die.

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