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Calif. Bans Sale And Possession Of Shark Fins

California Governor Jerry Brown said Friday he signed AB 376, a bill banning the sale, trade or possession of shark fins.

California now joins Hawaii, Guam, Washington and Oregon in trying to protect the dwindling shark population by reducing the demand for shark fins.

Brown said the "practice of cutting the fins off of living sharks and dumping them back in the ocean is not only cruel, but it harms the health of our oceans."

“Researchers estimate that some shark populations have declined by more than 90 percent, portending grave threats to our environment and commercial fishing," said Brown. "In the interest of future generations, I have signed this bill.”

The practice of “finning” for culinary purposes has led to substantial declines in shark populations worldwide.

The bill, authored by Democratic Assemblyman Paul Fong of Cupertino, had split the Asian delegation in the California Legislature. Fong said it is needed to protect endangered shark species, but others called the measure racist because the fins are used in a soup considered a delicacy in some Asian cultures.

San Diego County resident Judy Ki, co-chair of the Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance, reacted to the signing of the bill.

"I can cry now," said Ki. "Happy tears!"

In addition to AB 376, Brown signed a companion bill by Assemblyman Fong. AB 853 allows existing stocks of on-hand shark fins to be sold until July 1, 2013.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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