Factsheet
Sharks

Stopping Shark Finning

Defenders of Wildlife has worked for years to stop the brutal practice of shark finning, with major efforts in several U.S. states, such as California and New York.

The Problem

Shark fin soup is a status symbol in Asian culture and a sign of wealth (it can sell for up to $80 a serving in restaurants) and it is believed by some to have medicinal healing properties. Its proponents view its consumption as a cultural right. Most countries that sell shark fins have little to no regulations on the practice or the trade, allowing it to grow to unsustainable levels. Up to 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins.

How We’re Helping

The list of cities and states that are adopting anti-finning measures in recognition of the vast and immediate threat facing the world’s shark populations is growing. To date, Illinois, Washington, Hawaii, California, Oregon, New York, Maryland, Delaware and three Pacific Territories, as well as the city of Toronto, Canada, have all passed legislation to ban the practice.

Unfortunately, the U.S. as a whole, as well as many other countries, still allows shark finning, so Defenders is working on other efforts to gain protections for these ecologically important species.

In 2007, after five years of working with Mexico’s government, Defenders helped pass legislation that outlawed shark finning in Mexico’s waters.

In 2011, Defenders, along with a coalition of 12 other environmental organizations, began a campaign to pass a law banning the possession, trade, sale and distribution of shark fins in California. As a result of these efforts, on October 7, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB376 into law.

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Conservation Issue
Wildlife doesn’t stop at the U.S. border – so neither do we. We work internationally to protect wildlife around the world.
Reef Shark, © Ed Gullekson
Success Stories
February, 2014 - After outcry from state officials and conservationists, including Defenders of Wildlife, the National Marine Fisheries Service backs off an attempt to nullify state bans on shark fins.
Success Stories
December, 2013 - As part of an international effort to cut down on the devastating impact of the fin trade on shark species, Defenders helped organize a shark identification workshop in Brazil that was attended by officials from all over the continent.