HONOLULU, May 29 (UPI) -- Shark conservation groups are praising Hawaii, which has become the first U.S. state to ban the sale, possession or distribution of shark fins.
Violating the ban could prove expensive.
The new ban orders state restaurants to stop selling shark-fin soup by July 2011, or face fines of up to $15,000 for a first offense, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported. The fines rise to $35,000 for a second offense, and rise to $50,000 and a year in jail for a third offense, the report said.
Some estimates say up to 70 million sharks are killed annually for their fins, causing scientists and conservation groups to worry about the long-term survival of many species, the newspaper said. Shark-finning consists of slicing fins from live sharks and dumping their bodies overboard.
Gov. Linda Lingle signed the law that tries to halt the importation of shark fins, the primary ingredient in soup sold mostly in Asian communities and markets, the newspaper said.
"People from around the world have been following this Hawaii bill every step of the way," Mary O'Malley of the New York-based conservation group Shark Savers told the Star-Bulletin. "The success of the bill has motivated people in Hong Kong, Malaysia, other states in the U.S., Canada and even Ireland to seek shark-fin-ban legislation modeled after the Hawaii bill."