Shark fin soup, a popular Chinese delicacy, is now illegal in Nevada after the passing of a new law that prohibits the sale of shark fins, among parts and products of certain animal species.
Senate Bill No. 194, effective on January 1, forbids the trade of body parts and by-products derived from a shark fin, a lion of the species Panthera leo and any species of elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, pangolin, sea turtle, ray, mammoth, narwhal, walrus or hippopotamus.
Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the law in June 2017. It defines shark fin as “the fresh and uncooked, or cooked, frozen, dried or otherwise processed, detached fin or tail of a shark.”
Shark fin soup is a traditional dish in Chinese cuisine. It is commonly served in special occasions such as weddings and Lunar New Year celebrations.
Shark fin is flavorless but provides texture to the soup, which acquires taste from other ingredients. Ginger, onion, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, ginseng, ham, chicken and scallops may be used for the broth, among others.
Those who have tried it describe its texture as chewy, sinewy or stringy.
Shark fins are harvested through finning, which basically takes a shark’s fins before the animal is thrown back into the ocean. As fins are vital for propulsion and stabilization underwater, sharks that lose theirs are unlikely to survive.
While consumption of shark fins have declined in China in recent years, an increase has been observed in Nevada, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. Conservation group Shark Stewards said that this is “largely associated with the increase in visitors consuming shark fin and new casinos catering to them.”
With SB 194 in effect, Nevada joins 11 other states and three U.S. territories banning the shark fin trade.
David McGuire, director of Shark Stewards, praised the state’s move:
“This is a huge victory not only for Nevada but for wildlife that is poached or illegally harvested around the globe, including marine species. It demonstrates that Nevada is a leader in animal conservation.
“Nevada was the hub of shark fin trade and consumption in the US. This law protects wildlife and has the unique benefit of saving sharks and rays from the shark fin and gill raker trade. It is a another step forward protecting threatened species.”