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California residents rally for shark finning ban

California's state capitol will see supporters and opponents of a new bill that was proposed to ban shark finning today, as the Senate Appropriations Committee decides whether to pass it on to the full Senate, the Public News Service reports.

The bill would ban the possession, sale and distribution of shark fins, which are cut off of live sharks and used most commonly in Asian shark fin soup. The sharks are left to die in the ocean, causing many species to decline in numbers, the news source reports. According to the Los Angeles Times, the practice has reduced some shark populations to 10 percent of historic levels, and almost one-third of shark species are approaching extinction.

According to the Times, shark fin soup has been a staple of Cantonese cuisine for generations - the gelatinous delicacy is a sign of respect when served to guests, and commonly served at weddings. However, there is no sustainable source of shark's fin, and it is often obtained by the illegal practice of finning to meet the rising demand.

While opponents of the bill say that it is unfair to the Chinese culture, supporters note that sharks are an important part of the ocean's ecosystem.  
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