Edward Norton, a U.N. Environmental Ambassador and conservation advocate, has thrown his considerable weight behind a new push in the California legislature to enact a ban on shark fining.
Bill AB 376, introduced earlier this week, would make it illegal to possess, sell, trade or distribute shark fins except for educational purposes in the state of California. More than 73 million of the animals are killed each year for their fins — a deplorable action that drags various species ever closer to the brink of extinction.
“As a life-long diver, I have seen the depletion of sharks caused by the shark fin trade first-hand all over the world from Indonesia to the Galapagos Islands," said Norton in a joint release with WildAid. "The Fong/Huffman bill is a vital step towards reducing demand and protecting these important animals and has my full support.”
If passed, the legislation would compliment bans currently in effect in Hawaii and the Commonwealth of North Mariana Islands. Outside of Asia, California is one of the largest sources of demand for shark fin products.
"Sharks have been around for nearly 400 million years, but at the current rate of overfishing they could be wiped out in a single human generation," said Peter Knights, director of WildAid. "Fisheries regulation on the ground has utterly failed to reduce overfishing, market approaches like this bill are the way to go."
As Gordon Ramsay recently found out, shark fining can also be a dangerous enterprise for humans as well. The celebrity chef was filming a special on the illegal trade down in Costa Rica when he was attacked and doused with gasoline by fisherman less than pleased with his presence. He managed to escape harm only after police recommended that he leave the area immediately.
It's hoped that a ban by California will help relieve pressure on shark populations and close markets to those gangs (like those in Costa Rica) illegally involved in the trade.