Oregon could become the second state in the United States to outlaw the grisly trade of shark fins that go into Asian delicacy soups selling for up to $40 a bowl in Portland restaurants.

A bill introduced in the Legislature by Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie) would prohibit possessing, selling, trading or distributing shark fins in Oregon. 

"We do not need to be depleting our fish stocks or participating in inhumane practices that accommodate foreign markets that have very little impact on our domestic fishing industry," Witt says.

Though Congress approved a similar nationwide ban last December, state-level bills have also been proposed in Washington and California. Hawaii is the only state with its own ban. 

The shark-fin trade results in the killing of 73 million sharks worldwide each year, according to a March 2010 report from Oceana, an international organization devoted to ocean conservation. Once the animal's fins are removed, the living shark is thrown overboard to drown, starve or be eaten by other fish.

Witt's House Bill 2838 would not ban shark fishing, just the trade in shark fins.

"Those who choose to fish for sharks can still fish for sharks," says Witt, whose district includes Astoria.

Local restaurants listing shark-fin soup on their menus include Ocean City and Wong's King Seafood Restaurant, both in Southeast Portland.

Ocean City owner Lisa Fan tells WW her restaurant's shark-fin soup doesn't use real shark fin, but she doesn't know what the imitation shark fin is made from. A manager from Wong's King (see Rogue of the Week, WW, Aug. 25, 2010) was unavailable at press time. Other employees declined to comment.