August 9, 2013
Chinatown Restaurant Cited For Selling Shark Fin Soup

Chicago, IL -- A restaurant in the Chinatown neighborhood of Chicago was the first business in Illinois to be cited under a new law banning the sale, distribution, or trade of shark fins.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police fined Minghin Cuisine $120 Tuesday. The department received a tip that the restaurant listed shark fin soup on its online menu.

An IDNR press release said that officers found a shark fin on display inside the restaurant. It was authenticated by staff members at the Field Museum.

Illinois is the first non-Pacific state to ban shark fins. Hawaii became the first state to ban shark fins in 2010, and the law went into effect on July 1, 2011. Similar laws have been enacted in California, Washington State, and Oregon. Legislators in the New York State Assembly introduced a similar bill in 2012.

About 20 countries and regions have imposed regulations on commercial shark fishing or finning. While China regulates the harvesting of sharks, and hasn't banned the practice.

Opponents of shark fin bans say that it is discriminatory against Chinese people, who are the main consumers of shark fin soup. However, federal laws have already banned the practice of finning, which refers to the removal of the fin while the shark is thrown back in the ocean alive. The de-finned shark either drowns or bleeds to death.

Former Houston Rockets player Yao Ming, who pledged to stop eating shark fin soup in 2006, spoke out against the dish in 2011. He and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson spoke to 30 of China's richest and most influential businesspeople at event sponsored by conversation group WildAid.

At the time, opponents of shark finning said that more than 70 million sharks are killed each year for their fins. They can sell for $700 a pound, and the soup can cost up to $80 a bowl.

Do you think shark finning should be banned?