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Imagine your morning commute. You’re riding the train when, suddenly, a guy jumps you and takes off your arms and legs. “See ya,” he says, walking away with your limbs under his arm. “Have a nice day.”
That’s sort of what it’s like to be a shark that’s been “finned”–harvested for its chewy appendages, then left to sink to the ocean floor. The grisly practice has come under more scrutiny as appetite for shark fin soup, an expensive delicacy in Chinese cooking, has grown. But on Tuesday, the New York State Senate voted to ban the possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins. The legislation will now attempt swim through the Assembly, then to Governor Cuomo’s desk.
“The decimation of the shark population is a serious concern as it has a detrimental trickle-down effect for the entire marine food chain,” State Senator Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo), sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “With some shark populations in serious peril, and other countries and states passing legislation to protect sharks, New York should be a leader in extending protection to these magnificent animals.”
Five states have already officially banned shark fin, and as of last year, China prohibited its official banquets from serving shark fin soup. In New York, however, the specialty has thrived. According to the Animal Welfare Institute, more than 60 restaurants in New York serve shark fin soup.
Last year, an analysis by the Pew Environment Group, Stony Brook University, and the Field Museum in Chicago found evidence of endangered species in shark soup across 14 U.S. cities. DNA samples included the magnificently odd scalloped hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, spiny dogfish, bull shark, and copper shark–none of whom would be able to be featured during Shark Week if we keep eating them.