Issaquah senator aims to pull shark fin soup off the menu

March 29, 2011

By Staff

Though shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in Hong Kong, state legislators took a step March 7 to pull the item from menus.

State senators unanimously passed legislation to eliminate commercial shark finning in Washington waters. Sen. Steve Litzow, a freshman Republican from Mercer Island and a 41st Legislative District representative, urged colleagues to adopt the measure. (The district includes Cougar Mountain communities in Issaquah.)

“What has been most interesting as I looked into this is that over 73 million sharks are killed every year,” he said. “Ninety percent of the shark population in the open oceans has disappeared in the last several years. This is another one of the small steps in keeping a healthy ocean.”

Fins sell for as much as $700 per kilogram in Asia. Officials said finning has increased near the Washington coast in recent years as the price climbed.

The bill sponsor, San Juan Island Democrat Kevin Ranker, said the bill is meant to address trafficking in shark fins, not shark finning alone. So, recreational fishermen and -women could still fin sharks under the measure.

“Shark finners are active up and down Washington’s coast to an unsustainable extent,” he said. “Many catch the shark, cut off the fins and throw the body back into the water. Without this legislation, shark communities will only continue to shrink until they become endangered or extinct.”

The legislation heads to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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