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Sharks Find Friends in Annapolis

Photo: Maryland will soon be first East Coast state to ban the shark fin trade. Photo credit: Oceana
Photo: Maryland will soon be first East Coast state to ban the shark fin trade. Photo credit: Oceana
April 11, 2013

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Sharks aren't the most likable sea creatures, but they have friends in Annapolis.

Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected soon to sign legislation that bans the sale and possession of shark fins in Maryland. Animal-rights and environmental activists say sharks are being brutally slaughtered for their fins, which are used for the Asian delicacy "shark fin soup."

'"This is a bill that's already passed on the West Coast in California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii," said Beth Lowell, campaign manager for the ocean conservation group Oceana, "and we are hoping this is the trend for the East Coast to catch up to the West Coast."

Similar legislation has been introduced in other East Coast states, including Virginia and Delaware.

The shark population is declining dramatically, Lowell said, and losing the top predator in the ocean is ultimately bad for Chesapeake Bay.

"There have been cases," she said, "where there's been an increase in cow-nose rays because the sharks have gone away, which then go and eat the oyster population."

Critics of the shark-fin ban say it puts too much of a burden on the state's fishing industry.

Text of the legislation is online at mgaleg.maryland.gov.

Alison Burns, Public News Service - MD