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Stopping The Soup: Illinois Close To Banning Shark Fin Trade

By JoshMogerman in Food on Mar 10, 2012 9:00PM

Silky Shark [joi]

Sure, we are a landlocked state... And no, there are not sharks moving in on the Great Lakes as some scary new invasive species.… But that doesn’t mean that the Illinois General Assembly should not help out with a serious international environmental problem. With this week’s House vote to ban all trade of shark fins in Illinois, the state is close to joining California, Oregon, Hawaii and Washington in facing down a problem decimating the world’s shark populations. The big, toothy fish are caught and tossed back into the ocean to drown after their fins are hacked off as a chief ingredient for soup (they cannot swim without their fins).

NRDC’s Nick Magrisso puts the issue in perspective:

It is the intense demand for shark fins, and the astronomically high prices fins fetch, that drives the killing of an estimated that 26-73 million sharks each year. While the majority of shark fins are consumed overseas, Illinois is actually one of the largest markets for shark fins in the U.S. By ending the shark fin trade in our state, we end our contribution to a trade that threatens species that have survived over 400 million years.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports that more than one-third of open ocean shark species are threatened. Sharks are apex predators at or near the top of the food chain that play a critical role in balancing marine ecosystems.

New York State has a similar proposal that has run into some criticism over cultural bias, since the soup is a delicacy amongst some Asian countries. In this neck of the woods, the critique is a lot less thoughtful, with griping that the General Assembly should be spending its time on more pressing matters.

While we are not exactly prone to cheerleading for the state legislature, we do think that the folks in Springfield can deal with more than one issue at a time. And given the overwhelming vote and minimal floor time spent on the bill, we think it is great that our reps in the House took a few minutes to address an important global issue.