The shark fin trade is estimated to kill 73 million sharks each year. Certain shark species are protected by law, but enforcing these legal protections is difficult. A 2017 study on a Hong Kong market found that almost a third of shark fins purchased were from endangered sharks that should have had legal protection.
In sum, the shark fin industry is killing sharks that could soon face extinction, and the United States is a big part of the problem.
Can you guess which city is the No. 1 importer of shark fins in the U.S.?
Miami is the No. 1 shark fin importer, not because Floridians particularly like shark fin soup, but because Hong Kong exporters are running out of places where they can legally send fins.
In 2011, California banned shark fin imports. In 2013, New York did the same. Because those doorways are now closed, Miami has been the No. 1 shark fin importer in the U.S. since 2015.
Do Americans even eat shark fin soup?
The Animal Welfare Institute keeps a list of all the restaurants in the U.S. that currently offer shark fin soup on their menus. Their list has only five Florida restaurants. Interestingly, they list 15 restaurants located in New York, where possessing and selling shark fins has been illegal since 2014.
Almost all the restaurants on the AWI list serve Asian cuisine. This isn't surprising, given that shark fin soup is a traditional Chinese dish.
Stopping the Shark Fin Trade
Twelve US states currently ban shark fin imports, but Oceana is currently pushing for a federal ban. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., are co-sponsoring a bill that would outlaw all possession and sale of shark fins in the U.S. Call your representatives and tell them you want them to support the bill.