Significance of Hawaii's Shark Fin bill

Posted on June 13, 2010
Written by: Mary O'Malley

As many of you have heard by now, Hawaii's Governor Linda Lingle signed the historic Shark Fin Bill - SB 2169 to Prohibit the Possession, Sale and Distribution of Shark Fins - into law on May 28th.  This law will go into effect on July 1, 2010, and restaurants that currently serve shark fin dishes will have a one year grace period to clear out existing inventory. Why is this legislation so significant?

There are a number of different laws pertaining to "finning" -- cutting off the fins and dumping the bodies at sea - but this is the first legislation to ever prohibit the possession and sale of fins.

SB 2169 actually makes shark fin soup illegal.  It also makes it illegal to have shark fins on container ships in the harbors, which cuts off a major Pacific distribution point for the shark fin trade.  And because the language in the bill defines a "fin" as a fin that is attached or not attached to a shark, it in effect prohibits all shark harvest in Hawaii and landing of sharks (caught anywhere) in Hawaii.  

Senator Hee has made the point over and over -- for this to work, shark fins have to be treated as contraband, like ivory.

Link to the bill: