U.S. appeals court upholds California ban on shark fins

U.S. appeals court upholds California ban on shark fins

Giving a tough legal blow to Bay Area suppliers and sellers of shark fin soup, a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a California law that prohibits possession or sale of shark fins.

Soup prepared from fins of shark is a traditional dish, particularly popular in the Chinese American community. But the Golden State implemented a law in July 2013 to prohibit selling and serving of shark fin soup.

Federal laws prohibit fishermen from removing fins from live sharks but don't ban possession or sale of shark fins. Thus, many restaurants and Chinese American community organizations opposed the state law, arguing that the law surpassed the state's authority and interfered with a legal commercial fishing market.

But the San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law, and ruled that federal laws recognized the significance of sharks' conservation and allowed states to adopt their own measures to protect sharks.

Pronouncing the 2-1 ruling, Judge Andrew Hurwitz said, "The purpose of the shark fin law is to conserve state resources, prevent animal cruelty, and protect wildlife and public health."

Judge Hurwitz pointed out that the California law's opponents also acknowledged that the law in question still allowed the use of nearly 95 per cent of any lawfully caught shark for meat and oils.

Attorney Joseph Breall, who represented the plaintiffs in the court, hinted that they could seek a review of the decision by the full appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

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