Approximately 73 million sharks are killed annually just for their fins.

Twelve states have banned the use of shark fins and similar bills are pending in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida.

Nevertheless, the Animal Welfare Institute says that as many as 200 restaurants throughout the U.S. are ignoring the law by continuing to serve dishes like shark fin soup, a traditional East Asian dish eaten at celebrations.

Although California is one of the states that has banned the possession, sale or trade of shark fins, AWI found 59 restaurants still serving them there. New York has a similar ban, yet 19 restaurants in the state were found to violate the law.

“The United States is a major producer, exporter and trade stop for shark fins,” said Cathy Liss, president of AWI. “Clearly, the existing patchwork of state laws and uneven enforcement have failed to shut down a lucrative billion-dollar industry. When shark fin soup is on the menu, so is animal cruelty.”

Shark finning is the inherently cruel act of cutting off a shark’s fins while the animal is still alive, its mutilated body tossed back into the ocean to suffocate, bleed out or suffer predator attack.

Not only is shark finning inhumane, but the massive industry is pushing many shark species towards extinction and, in the process, upsetting the delicate balance in marine ecosystems.  Sharks are apex predators who are vital to maintaining a functioning marine ecosystem.

Fifteen of the 16 warm-water flat shark species are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation, who report population drops of more than 80 percent over the last 30-45 years due to overfishing and shark finning.

In a landmark move last month, Canada banned all imports and exports of shark fins. The United States has the power to do the same.

A federal bill entitled the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2019 would make it illegal to possess, buy or sell shark fins or any product containing them throughout the country. A Lady Freethinker petition supporting this bill has already garnered more than 20,000 signatures.

Please sign to add your voice in protecting sharks from cruelty and extinction.

SIGN: Ban Cruel Shark Fin Trade in the U.S.