Lawmaker sinks shark fin ban - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lawmaker sinks shark fin ban

Shark fins drying on fishing vessel, Yap, Micronesia Shark fins drying on fishing vessel, Yap, Micronesia
Vicky Cayetano Vicky Cayetano
Linda Paul Linda Paul
Inga Gibson Inga Gibson
Johnson Choi Johnson Choi

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Supporters say it could have been ground breaking legislation to protect sharks, instead Senate Bill 2169 was deferred by State House Judiciary Chair Jon Riki Karamatsu, essentially taking all the bite out of the bill.  Rep. Karamatsu wants to get all sides together to find some common ground before they protect the sharks.

The bill would have banned the possession, sale or distribution of shark fins.  Each year tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins which are then used in soup.

"The practice of finning to put a few pieces of cartilage into chicken soup is driving shark species on this planet to extinction," said Linda Paul, Hawaii Audubon Society and International Director of the Endangered Species Program for Earthtrust.

"Because of the millions of sharks that are being harvested across the country, many here in the pacific, we have numerous species on the verge of extinction," said Inga Gibson, The Humane Society of the United States, Hawaii State Director.

While some see shark finning as cruel others say it's cultural.  Dating back thousands of years shark fin soup was served to royalty and today the expensive dish is a status symbol and popular at special events.

"People enjoy it. They like it and feel there is nutritional value and its part of the culture, something you believe in," said Johnson Choi, Hong Kong, China, Hawaii Chamber of Commerce.

"I think as a Chinese person I can say to those who say it's cultural, that to me it's as cultural bound feet and I'm thankful we're much more enlightened," said Vicky Cayetano, supports the shark fin ban.

Surprising opponents of the bill include the University of Hawaii and the Waikiki Aquarium.  Not because they think shark finning is good but because it would drown research in bureaucracy.

"Hawaii is a leader in shark research and we want to make sure if it isn't broke don't fix it.  Right now research on sharks in Hawaii is first class and this bill has language that will require us to not do it or get permits and permitting is a nightmare," said Dr. Kim Holland, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology Researcher.

The researchers concerns were a big reason for delaying the bill.  It is possible the issue could be taken up again this session but it is not likely.

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