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 Oregon Shark Fin Ban (HB 2838) Press Release . . .

NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
04 Aug 2011


        HISTORIC OREGON LEGISLATION PROTECTS SHARKS

     Oregon Governor Formally Signed HB 2838 into Law Today, 
Making the State Second in the Continental U.S. to Ban Shark Fins


Salem, Oregon - 04 Aug 2011 -- The Center for Oceanic 
Awareness, Research, and Education, known more commonly
by its acronym "COARE", applauds the the State of Oregon
for its adoption of House Bill 2838 (authored by
Representative Brad Witt) and Governor John Kitzhaber
for formally signing that Bill into law today.  Since 
its inception, COARE has been actively addressing shark
conservation issues, and attempts to reduce shark fin
consumption in the U.S. and worldwide.

Oregon is now the second State in the continental U.S.
to enact a legislative ban on shark fins, and this law
represents a significant step towards reducing pressure
on rapidly declining shark populations.  Oregon's ban
complements similar legislation signed into law on 12
May 2011 by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire, as well
as pending legislation in California, which passed
California's State Assembly, and is currently being
heard in the Senate.  Oregon's new ban is also preceded
by legislative bans already adopted by the State of
Hawai'i, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana
Islands, Fiji, and the Bahamas.

House Bill (HB) 2838 was introduced to the Oregon State
Legislature on 11 January 2011 by Representative Brad
Witt (D-Clatskanie) to prohibit the possession, sale,
trade, and distribution of shark fins in Oregon.
Western ports such as those in Oregon and California are
major entry points for shark fin distribution in the
United States.

"All too often shark fins are obtained by means of a
barbaric practice commonly referred to as finning.  This
involves the taking of sharks solely for the purpose of
harvesting their fins, while the rest of the fish is
usually wasted," said Representative Witt.

Every year, fins from up to 73 million sharks are used
for shark fin soup, a dish traditionally served at
Chinese weddings and banquets.  This soup has grown in
popularity, increasing consumer demand for shark fins
and contributing to the decimation of shark populations
worldwide as millions of sharks are killed every month,
many for their fins alone.  As a result of these fishing
pressures, one-third of shark species are already
threatened with extinction.

As sharks play a vital role in the oceans, their
depletion could cause irreparable damage to marine
ecosystems.  "Sharks are one of our oceans' top
predators, keeping the entire ecosystem in check, but
shark populations have declined dramatically over the
last few decades as a result of human greed and lack of
understanding," said Christopher Chin, COARE's Executive
Director.  Animals at the top of the food chain, such as
sharks, have few natural predators, so they are slow to
mature, and have very few young.  "As a result, they are
extremely sensitive to fishing pressures, and are slow
to recover from overfishing", continued Chin.

While the support for Oregon's ban, as well as for its
predecessors in Washington, Hawai'i, Guam, and CNMI, has
been nearly unequivocal, similar pending legislation in
California is meeting with some resistance.  Opponents
to California's Assembly Bill (AB) 376, claim that it is
an imposition on Chinese culture, and that some sharks
are plentiful; however, "since such a large percentage
of sharks are already considered endangered, and since
the practice of finning is conducted without regard to
species, age, or gender, it is no surprise that even
endangered species are being slaughtered", said Chin.
DNA sequencing of a recent sampling of fins for sale in
San Francisco revealed that endangered species, such as
the great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran), are represented
on San Francisco shelves.

"We find that many Chinese and Chinese-Americans simply
don't understand the issues.  If people knew more about
these animals and their crucial role in the ocean, they
would want to protect them", continued Chin.  While
surveying Chinese restaurants in San Francisco, COARE
found a significant number of restaurateurs that served
the controversial soup only because they believed their
customers expected it.  "This bill helps directly
address those informational shortcomings, and provides a
simple solution for those who requested, 'make it
illegal so we don't have to sell it'," reported Chin. 

Oregon House Bill (HB) 2838 passed both the House of
Representatives and Oregon State Senate unanimously,
with votes of 44-0 and 30-0, respectively.  The House of
Representatives subsequently voted with an overwhelming
58-1 to concur with minor amendments made in the Senate.
"We are absolutely thrilled by Oregon's leadership,"
said Chin.  "These resolute and decisive votes set a
very clear direction and provide a strong example and
act to follow.  If legislators in other jurisdictions
have been harboring doubt about which direction to take,
the choice should now be clear."

COARE began development of its Shark Safe program in
early-2007 seeking to protect sharks by raising
awareness of threats to shark populations and by
reducing the demand for shark products.  In 2007, COARE
also teamed up with WildAid to launch the Shark Friendly
Communities campaign.  "By increasing public awareness
of the need for shark conservation, we endeavor to
change the way people think about sharks, thereby
reducing the sale, use, and trade of shark products",
Chin said.  "We're really excited about this new law and
the similar legislation that is pending in California.
We have been working on this concept for a number of
years, and it's wonderful to finally see it to take
form."


About COARE
The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and
Education, Inc. (COARE) is a tax-exempt nonprofit
organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Its
purpose is to study our oceans and increase public
awareness of the earth's marine environment through
educational programs and outreach.  COARE seeks to
enlighten people, young and old, to the plight of the
oceans, to change the way they think and act, and to
encourage them to create positive and lasting change.
For more information about COARE, and the Shark Safe
certification program, visit http://www.coare.org and
http://www.sharksafe.org.


COARE, Shark Safe, and the Shark Safe logo are
trademarks of The Center for Oceanic Awareness,
Research, and Education, Inc.  All other company names
or marks mentioned herein are those of their respective
owners.


Media Contact
Jennifer Bowyer, media@coare.org, +1-510-495-7875

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