Next January, the sale and possession of shark fins will be illegal in Oregon. House Bill 2838 passed the House and Senate and the Governor has signed the bill, which means that Oregon becomes one of a few states that will ban the Chinese delicacy from menus.
Shark Finning, targeted in recent years by conservationists, involves slicing the dorsal fins off of the fish and tossing the sharks back into the water, condemning them to a slow death. (Shark meat is worth much less than fins, so the finless sharks are thrown back into the sea to make room on fishing vessels for more fins.) The shark-fin trade results in the killing of 73 million sharks worldwide each year, according to a 2010 report from Oceana, an ocean conservation group.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Brad Witt(D-Clatskanie), puts Oregon in select company. While Congress has banned the actual finning of sharks in American waters, the sale and possession of shark fins is still allowed throughout the country, with the exception of Hawaii and Washington and now Oregon. The California Assembly has passed a similar bill, but the legislation is bottled up in the Senate, where the Asian restaurant lobby is seeking to kill the measure
The Oregon campaign to ban shark fins was energized by a story that appeared in WW in August of 2010, in which we called attention to the use of shark fins by Wong's King Seafood, an exceedingly popular group of Chinese restaurants in the metro area. To Wong's credit, it did not wait for the bill to pass, but has already taken shark fin soup off of the menu.