Republican Senator Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, spoke against the bill, stating that if the sharks are caught legally, fishermen should be able to sell any part of the shark. However, the practice of “shark finning”, where the shark’s fins are cut off and the still living shark is tossed back in the ocean to die, is against federal law. States can still import and sell the product from places like China and Mexico.
The problem that Rep. Eddie Lucin III, D-Brownsville was trying to address when proposing this bill was that there is a strong profit for shark fins in Texas which encourages the practice of “shark finning”. The high profits of selling the fins are greater than the potential legal fines if the perpetrators are caught.
Many Asian restaurants around the world serve shark fin soup as a delicacy. It can command $700 a pound and the soup is considered a status symbol.
Fraser’s argument turned enough senators against the bill that it couldn’t come up for a vote. A bill needs the approval of 21 senators to get to the floor of the Texas Senate.
Delaware joined the leadership of California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Illinois and Maryland in banning the shark fin trade.
New York lawmakers also voted unanimously earlier this month to ban shark fin trade. The vote sent the measure to Gov. Cuomo’s desk for a signature that could make New York the eighth state in the nation to ban the sale, purchase and possession of shark fins.
Sponsors of the legislation call it a “barbaric practice” which kills more than 70 million sharks around the world each year.
New York has become the largest point of entry and distribution for shark fins on the East Coast. “Growing up in Chinatown, I never thought I’d see an end to the horrific shark fin trade”, said Patrick Kwan, director of the Humane Society.
With bans appearing imminent in New York, environmental groups are hoping more states will pass laws outlawing the business.
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