A bill banning the sale of shark fins in New Jersey waters has advanced in the state Legislature.
On Monday, the Senate Energy and Environment Committee unanimously passed bill S2905, which prohibits the possession and sale of shark fins. Sponsored by Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, the bill is meant to prevent New Jersey from contributing to the international shark fin trade.
Shark finning, seen in some Asian countries, is a practice in which fishermen pull sharks out of the water, slice their fins off and discard them back into the sea alive but unable to swim. The fins are used to make shark-fin soup, a Chinese delicacy.
"The goal is not to interfere with legal shark fishing but to not participate in the importation of shark fins that disregard where or how the fins were obtained," said Alea Couch, policy coordinator for Singleton.
Environmental groups say it has contributed to a decline in the shark population over past few decades. According to estimates published in the Marine Policy Journal, 100 million sharks are killed each year.
"The shark population has been decimated," said New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel. "This bill will help end practice of shark finning that endangers the species."
Laws passed by Congress have already banned shark finning in federal waters, Tittel said, but this bill would end the practice in state waters, too. Fishermen in the area are still involved in the import and export of shark fins, he said.
A few local eateries over the years have served shark-fin soup, including the former Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort and Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, according to previous food reviews in The Press of Atlantic City.
In 2013, a petition to stop Trump Taj Mahal from selling the soup garnered nearly 2,000 signatures.
Sen. Cory Booker last year introduced a bill in Congress to close loopholes in federal legislation from 2000 and 2010 banning shark finning.