Posted on: August 31, 2010

Hawaii Has New Shark Fin Law

The State of Hawaii has taken a major step to protect sharks with the passage of a new law that will prohibit the possession, sale, trade or distribution of shark fins in Hawaii. The law went into effect on July 1, 2010. We thank all Pacific Whale Foundation Members and supporters who wrote to our Hawaii lawmakers to encourage passage of this law.

Hawaii's new law was created to protect sharks from the cruel and wasteful practice of shark-finning, which involves cutting off the fins of a living shark, for such items as "shark fin soup" and other Asian market specialties. The shark fins are considered both an aphrodisiac and a tonic. About 89 million sharks are killed around the world for their fins each year. This wholesale slaughter of sharks could bring many species to the edge of extinction. Sharks are a needed apex predator that help to keep the oceans free from sick and diseased wildlife.

Hawaii's bill was signed into law by Governor Linda Lingle on May 29, 2010. It had been championed by Hawaii State Senator Clayton Hee, who compared killing sharks for their fins to killing elephants for their ivory.

Because Hawaii is located in the middle of the Pacific, vessels were transferring and storing shark fins here, before sending them to Asia. The new law should help to reduce this trade.

Shark researchers and educational institutes may still obtain permits by Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources to posess shark fins.

"We hope other states and countries will follow Hawaii's lead and pass similar laws," says Tracy Jones, Executive Director at Pacific Whale Foundation.

"It's easy to protect wildlife, like whales and dolphins, that we all love," she notes. "Fortunately, our members and supporters recognize that sharks play a critical role in keeping our oceans healthy, and also need our protection."

"I want to thank all of you who have sent letters and emails to encourage Hawaii's lawmakers to pass this important new law, " says Jones. "Your participation has made a real and tangible difference on behalf of these important marine animals and the overall health of the ocean."

Nationally, the United States Congress is considering S.3231 Shark Conservation Act of 2008, a bill to amend the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. So far, it has been approved in the House. The law would require fishermen to land sharks with their fins still attached. Because the entire shark is larger than just the fin, this would reduce the number of shark fins that could be harvested by a single vessel. Pacific Whale Foundation will be reporting on the status of this bill to our members. To learn more about the bill, visit