A bill to ban the sale and distribution of shark fins in Delaware passed overwhelmingly in legislative hall and is headed to Governor Jack Markell’s desk for his signature.
Shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy, can fetch more than $100 a bowl, and is traditionally served at special events to symbolize wealth and prestige.
However, the dish’s main ingredients are often obtained in a cruel and inhumane process in a competitive global market.
According Hetti Brown, state director of the Delaware Humane Society, the global shark finning industry is not regulated, uses “highly cruel” practices and is unsustainable.
“It’s a very pricey item and because of that, it’s fueled a shark finning industry where sharks are caught, their fins are sliced off -- most commonly while they're still alive -- and their bodies dumped back into the ocean where they die of starvation or bleeding to death,” explained Brown.
House Bill 41 bans the sale and distribution of the product in Delaware, which will help close up the demand for the product in the global market.
“The industry is fueled by the demand for this product,” explained Brown. “And as long as were allowing commerce of shark fins to continue, we will be contributing to the global shark finning industry.”
The bill's main sponsor, Rep. Earl Jaques, says the ban also protects the dwindling shark population.
“The population in some species has decreased by 97 percent,” said Jaques. “So, we’re trying to save the sharks because we need them so we have a balanced ocean so nature can take its course.”
He added that the bill would not affect recreational fishing.
All West Coast states and Illinois have prohibited the sale of shark fins, and Maryland recently passed a similar law.
Delaware’s bill heads to the governor’s desk next week and the law would go into effect immediately.