According to an online database maintained by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), about 200 restaurants across the country offer shark fin products.
Dozens of these restaurants are violating their state’s prohibition on shark fins and shark fin products. California, for instance, leads the nation in the number of restaurants offering shark fin products—59 were found byAWI in its latest audit—despite a 2013 state law that prohibits the possession, sale, trade or distribution of shark fins. In New York, which passed a similar ban in 2014, 19 restaurants continue to sell the dish
Bills banning the sales of shark fins are also pending in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida and Rhode Island.
Shark finning is the practice of cutting off a shark’s fins and throwing the body in the ocean, where the shark will eventually die. About 73 million sharks are killed every year for their fins alone. While the US bans shark finning in federal waters, there is no nationwide ban on the sale of shark fins.
Today, a quarter of all shark and ray species are listed as threatened or endangered. In fact, the International Union for Conservation of Nature classified all but one of the 16 warm-water flat shark species as critically endangered. This is due to declines of over 80% in the past 30 to 45 years, mainly because of overfishing and shark finning.
In addition, Canada has also banned shark fin imports and exports.