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Obama at restaurant that serves shark fin

Feb. 18, 2012 at 12:58 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- President Obama ate at a restaurant in San Francisco that serves shark fin soup, a delicacy that has been outlawed in California, observers said.

However, Obama did not sample the $48 bowl of braised shark fin soup when he visited the Great Eastern restaurant in Chinatown Thursday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Distribution and sale of shark fin products were outlawed in California as of Jan. 1, but some restaurants are still able to sell the soup until July 1, 2013. Great Eastern is one of nine restaurants still serving the soup in San Francisco.

The Shark Conservation Act, which Obama signed on Jan. 4, prohibits harvesting sharks for their fins and bans cutting fins off a shark at sea, a common practice. Federal law allows shark fin suppliers to sell the product if the fin was obtained legally, which requires keeping the carcass intact.

The Save Our Seas Foundation, an ocean protection group, said as many as 72 million sharks a year are subject to "finning," the practice of cutting a shark's fins off and then dumping the bodies back into the ocean to die.

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