Aquarium Fishing for Signatures to Stop Shark Finning

April 24, 2011; Source: The Bay Citizen | The nonprofit Aquarium of the Bay of San Francisco is spearheading an effort to end the practice of stripping sharks of their fins and then throwing them back into the sea to die. The aquarium recently launched a drive to get visitors to its Fisherman's Wharf exhibition spaces to sign postcards urging the California legislature to pass a bill outlawing the sale of shark fins in the state.

Describing the harvesting of fins as "barbaric," a "catastrophe," and a "threat to the health of the food web," Christina Slager, Director of Animal Care and Aquatic Exhibits, says she hopes the aquarium's efforts will encourage enough people "to do the right thing and oppose this brutal practice."

The bill, which has won approval in two committees, now faces a full vote in the California Assembly. If passed, it would require state senate approval. Senator Leland Yee, a candidate for San Francisco mayor, says he'll oppose the bill unless it's amended to allow the sale of fins from sharks that fisherman catch and keep.

According to Yee the current bill would deprive his Chinese constituents access to a traditional delicacy. As Yee put it, perhaps not so delicately, in a February press conference, "So those sharks that come in – what are you going to do with that fin?”—Bruce Trachtenberg