California’s ban on the possession and sale of shark fins survived a legal challenge Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Bay Area suppliers and sellers of shark fin soup, a traditional dish in the Chinese American community.
Federal law prohibits shark “finning,” the removal of fins from sharks, but does not forbid possessing or selling shark fins. California lawmakers went a step further with a statute that took effect in July 2013 and had the impact of removing shark fin soup from restaurant menus.
Restaurant owners and shark fin suppliers, joined by Chinese American community organizations, argued that the state was exceeding its authority and was interfering with a commercial fishing market that the federal government had intended to preserve. But a federal appeals court ruled in July 2015 that the federal laws recognize the importance of conservation and allow states such as California to adopt their own protective measures.