Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Illinois's and California's Shark Fin Laws Showing Bite!

Greetings everyone. Well it looks like both Illinois and California are not taking their shark fin laws lightly. In both states it is illegal to posses, sell, or trade shark fins. In those two states that does mean that shark fin soup is an illegal dish as well, shark fins are in the soup. So what has happened in these two states over the past month or so? Let's take a look shall we.

Lets start with Illinois. This state is situated in the mid west with no borders that are oceans.



Of all places in the United States, Illinois is probably one of the last places the average person would expect to see with a shark fin problem. Well just like states on the coast, they do have a shark fin problem and they have acted on it. In 2012, the State Government of Illinois  passed a law banning the sale and trade of shark fins. After a very short time, the state started to make moves to get shark fins out of the state. In late 2013 Illinois Conservation Police purchased shark fin products from 6 different companies in Chicago. Some of the purchased items included shark fin soup off a menu, cans of shark fin soup, as well as frozen and dried shark fins. All of these items were confirmed to have shark fin in them by the Field Museum in Chicago for DNA analysis. This past February officers returned to those locations with citations. The citations were for unlawful commercialization of shark fin and operating a fish market without a Resident Retail Aquatic Life Dealer License. When the officers returned, they confiscated a total of 22 more cans containing shark fin and also confiscated 11 packages of frozen blue shark fins.

At this time, Illinois has issued 12 shark fin citations with 80 violations since the law has been enacted. The shark fin citation is considered a Class A Misdemeanor which is punishable by 1 year in jail and $2,500 dollars in fines.

Over on the west coast, another state has seen their shark fin laws enforced. That would be the large state of California! California's law basically mirrors that of Illinois and was enacted in 2011.
   
Big news came out of San Francisco recently about a massive shark fin bust. Usually business owners cited for selling shark fins only have a small amount of them, well Mr. Michael Kwong has been cited for holding over a ton of shark fins! The fins were discovered after authorities questioned Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood in a nearby town. As with Illinois, having shark fins is a misdemeanor. Kwong could face up to six months in prison as well as fines under California state law. Despite this, he has asked authorities to keep the fins refrigerated and has demanded that they be returned to him as soon as possible. It is unknown, but doubtful I would think that authorities would comply with those requests.

So there you have it. Two states, one on the coast and one in the middle of the country upholding the laws they passed in an effort to save sharks. While some of the Asian populations of those states continue to call the law racist, I applaud both of those states as well as Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Maryland, Delaware, and New York for having their own shark fin laws in place or preparing to be implemented. I hope that sooner, rather than later, even more states follow the example that these states have set.

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