Court rejects request to halt shark fin ban

SAN FRANCISCO (AP)

A federal court has rejected two Chinese-American groups’ request to halt California’s ban on the selling and possession of shark fins.

U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton on Wednesday denied the request, rejecting Chinese-American groups’ argument that the ban, which took effect Jan. 1, 2012, violated their civil rights by targeting a food item used in traditional weddings and cultural festivals.

Before the ban, California’s shark-fin soup market was the largest outside of Asia.

Critics of shark finning estimate that 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins, removing a key predator from the marine food chain.

Hawaii, Washington, Oregon and Guam already have bans in place, and the practice is restricted in U.S. waters.

Attorneys for the Chinatown Neighborhood Association did not respond to a request for comment.

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