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California officially bans shark fin trade

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed legislation that makes California the fourth state in the nation to ban the practice of shark finning, the Humane Society of the United States reports.

The new law prohibits the sale, possession or distribution of shark fins, which are obtained by slicing the fins off of a shark and then throwing the animal back into the ocean to bleed to death or drown. This practice has been banned for many years, but the new legislation closes a loophole that will help to conserve sharks, which have declined as much as 90 percent in recent decades, the news source reports.

While animal rights activists laud the governor for the bill, many Chinese American restaurateurs in California are objecting, saying it goes against their culture, the Los Angeles Times reports. The fin has traditionally been used in shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy.

"Now it's just one more thing Chinese people cannot find in America," Thai Ong, manager of Wing Hop Fung, a Chinese specialty store in Monterey Park that carries dried shark fin, told the news source.

Others say it is discriminative to Chinese culture because it is not banning the use of other parts of a shark, only that used in the nation's dish.  
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