US Campaigns

White tip shark - Photo by J Argen Donauer

Restaurants and Consumers

As awareness about the problems with shark fin soup grows, more and more people are pledging to avoid the dish. Although hundreds of restaurants still serve shark fin soup, a number have taken it off the menu in response to pressure from consumers and concern for the environment. Some have elected to offer imitation shark fin soup instead. Further, many young couples have decided not to serve the dish at their weddings, and some companies have pledged not to serve it at company functions.

AWI is leading a nationwide effort to encourage US restaurants to stop serving shark fin products, and consumers from purchasing them, because of the cruelty of shark finning and the precarious state of shark populations. View an up-to-date list of restaurants across the US that sell the soup. Please email us at [email protected] if you find a restaurant selling shark fin soup that does not appear on the list.

To encourage a restaurant in your area to stop serving shark fin soup: 1) Talk/write to the owner and express your concerns regarding shark finning; 2) Give them a copy of our Sharks at Risk brochure in English or Chinese; 3) Give them a copy of AWI’s “Shark Fin Soup - Risk to Human Health” factsheet, in English and Chinese.

Shark Finning Bans

The growing concern for shark populations has also led legislators in the US to enact laws to restrict the practice of finning (removing the fins at sea and discarding the carcass) and the possession of shark fins.

President Bill Clinton signed the Shark-Finning Prohibition Act in 2000, in an effort to curb shark finning. This legislation made it unlawful to possess a shark fin in US waters without a corresponding carcass. Unfortunately, the ban did not require that carcasses be brought ashore with fins attached, relying instead on a fin-to-carcass ratio whereby the total weight of the fins must not exceed a certain percentage of the total weight of the carcasses. This allowed fisherman to flout the law by mixing and matching bodies and fins from various sharks, making enforcement very difficult since it is nearly impossible for enforcement officials to determine what species fins are taken from once they are removed from the body. The consensus of scientists, conservationists and enforcement officials is that the only way to effectively enforce a shark finning ban is to require that if sharks are fished, they must be brought to shore with their fins naturally attached.

Recognizing this loophole, the federal government passed the Shark Conservation Act in 2010 to strengthen the nation’s shark finning ban by requiring fishermen in US waters to bring sharks ashore with fins naturally attached. On November 20, 2019, The US House of Representatives passed HR.737, The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2019, which would make it illegal for any person to possess, buy, or sell any product containing shark fins. Its companion bill, S.877, is currently awaiting consideration in the Senate. Learn more about the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act here.

Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Delaware, Maryland, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Texas, Nevada, New JerseyFlorida, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam went a step further and passed state-specific legislation banning the possession and/or trade of shark fins altogether. To learn about these shark finning bans in more detail, please click here.