Shark fin ban lives on - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Shark fin ban lives on

Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu
Sen. Clayton Hee Sen. Clayton Hee
Inga Gibson Inga Gibson

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The shark fin soup ban is back on the table.  The bill was left for dead on Tuesday, but brought back to life this afternoon.  While there are still concerns lawmakers voted to pass the bill along to the next step.  If the vote didn't happen today the bill would have died but thanks to some political wheeling and dealing the bill is alive and moving on.

On Tuesday judiciary committee chair Jon Riki Karamatsu on his own all but killed the shark fin bill.  But at the last minute he decided to bring it back.  And even before the committee vote there was uncertainty with lawmakers whispering to each other about what they'd do.  Ultimately they were told to vote with their conscience.  They passed the bill with seven yes votes, zero no votes and five lawmakers voting yes but with reservations.

"Certain colleagues in the legislature want more discussion," said Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu, (D) Judiciary Committee Chair.

He's mainly talking about the bill's author Sen. Clayton Hee, who fought back for the bill and Rep. Karamatsu listened.

"Part of the reason for the legislature is to have an open hearing and open discussion and for that reason I will allow this to continue," said Rep. Karamatsu as to bringing the bill back for a vote.

"I think he appreciates the effort to compromise," said Sen. Clayton Hee, (D) who wrote the bill.

The bill would make it illegal for anybody to possess, sell or distribute shark fins in Hawaii which would force restaurants to take shark fin soup off the menu for good.

"It's terrific. It's a great day for Hawaiians because the shark is the aumakua, the family guardian of Hawaiians," said Sen. Hee.

The bill still isn't a sure thing to become law.  Environmentalists, researchers, restaurant owners and fishermen still have to find a compromise, but agreement may be impossible to reel in.

"Whew, everyone is so far apart on this all the different groups are far apart I see it very challenging actually," said Rep. Karamatsu.

"It is our hope that in the next couple of weeks here we will all be able to come together and have a solid, effective,  enforceable bill that will make Hawaii the ultimate leader in shark and ocean protection," said Inga Gibson, The Humane Society of the United States, Hawaii State Director.

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