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“Shark Day” at the State Capitol

August 15, 2011

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - It's Shark Day at the State Capitol. Supporters of a bill to ban the practice of shark finning will be outside the Capitol to raise awareness about sharks and to show their support for AB 376, a bill that bans the possession, sale and distribution of shark fins.

Jim Curland, marine program associate with Defenders of Wildlife, says the practice of hacking off the fins of live sharks, and then leaving the crippled fish to die in the ocean, is contributing to the decline of many shark species.

"Shark populations are just getting hammered in terms of over-fishing, and the finning practice, not only depleting the shark populations, but the practice itself, is something that is just horrific."

Curland's group says up to 73 million sharks are killed each year. And because sharks are top predators, he points out that their demise would also affect other marine life. He says a recent study by a group of two dozen reputable scientists supports that notion.

"The paper is called 'Trophic Downgrading of Planet Earth' and the shark is one example of how if you take these top predators, whether it's sharks, or wolves, or sea otters, out of these systems, it greatly impacts the systems."

Curland says the demonstration at the Capitol today is meant to be educational.

"Our hope is that it brings awareness. And, you know, it could surprise some, that they didn't know exactly what shark finning is, and they'll learn more about how shark populations are in real bad shape."

Opponents call the bill unfair because shark fin soup has been a part of Asian culture for thousands of years.

The bill is being heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee today and if passed will go before the full Senate.

More information is at www.defenders.org

More about AB 376 is at www.aroundthecapitol.com

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA