The law generally makes it a crime for any person to possess without a permit (which is generally only available for educational or scientific purposes), or to sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute, a shark fin. It does have a window of exception, which allows certain people currently in possession of fins, i.e. acquired prior to January 1, 2012, to sell them until July 2013. After that, possession is punishable by up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine.
The group represents an estimated 90% of California's Department of Fish and Game licensed and recognized Shark Fin receivers, wholesalers, and processors. The group believes that it supplies nearly 100% of the fins consumed within California, and many members also supply most major cities within the U.S.
The complaint states that, "Shark fin soup is an Asian cultural delicacy with origins in the Ming Dynasty. It is a ceremonial centerpiece of traditional Chinese banquets, as well as celebrations of weddings and birthdays of one's elders."
The group argues that the ban violates the Commerce Clause, in that a significant number of the fins are sold across state lines, and that it further constitutes a regulatory taking, in that many of the group's members have invested substantially in their businesses (including capital, inventory, and goodwill), some for over 35 years.
Additionally, the group argues that the law is duplicative in that what it sets out to accomplish, regulating the manner in which sharks are fished, is already addressed in separate U.S. laws. In order to prevent the practice of fishermen removing the animal's fins and then throwing them back into the ocean to die a slow death, U.S. laws already require that sharks caught by U.S. vessels be brought back whole, and those imported into California must be in accordance with the federal Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 and the Shark Conservation Act of 2011.
I am incredibly interested to see how this one turns out.
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