State House Votes To Ban Shark Fins, Lawmaker Wonders Why

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — Environmentalists are applauding, and at least one state representative is scratching his head, after the Illinois House voted to ban the possession of shark fins.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, HB 4119, sponsored by state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), would forbid the possession, sale or trade of any shark fin, be it “raw, dried or otherwise processed.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

State Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Countryside) finds the very notion of focusing on shark fins absurd.

“Rome is burning, and we are banning shark fins,” Durkin said.

The state is $9 billion behind paying vendors, and has serious and ongoing budget issues stemming from pension costs and Medicare.

“We are sitting in a sea of debt, and we are passing bills that do nothing to solve the problems in the end,” Durkin said.

Environmentalists say shark populations are dropping dramatically because of overfishing. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in some Asian cultures.

But critics of shark finning, which already is restricted in U.S. waters, estimate that fishermen kill 73 million sharks each year for their fins, CBS San Francisco reported last fall. They said it is particularly cruel because the wounded sharks often are returned to the ocean to die after their fins are removed.

“Sharks need their fins, and we don’t,” Jennifer Fearing, the Humane Society’s California director told CBS San Francisco. “The momentum to protect sharks globally has taken a huge step forward.”

California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington state have already approved bans on the shark fin trade. Bans are also pending in New York state and Maryland.

When the California bill was approved last October, Gov. Jerry Brown said action needed to be taken.

“The practice of cutting the fins off of living sharks and dumping them back in the ocean is not only cruel, but it harms the health of our oceans,” Brown wrote in an October statement.

The Illinois bill must win approval from the state Senate before going on to Gov. Pat Quinn.

  • Me

    I kind of agree with the lawmaker….why are they focusing on this, I understand the sharks are being overly hunted, but still…. Its a federal crime to hunt, have them, but Illinois wants to trump Federal law with their own, stricter one?

  • PG

    Finally, it appears that at least one state representative is awake and seeing what is going on. Rep. Jim Durkin, I applaud you on this one instance sir. While the state drowns in debt, takes 9 months to pay its bills (it was 6 months prior to the income tax raise that we were all told would fix this problem) and the state employee pension fund is ten’s of billions of dollars underfunded, these elected goofs in Springfield are focusing on everything EXCEPT the budget. They push through bills like this to make it look like they are busy, which there are, but they aren’t busy working on the things that need fixing.

  • the rapture

    this is what we are paying (as taxpayers) our elected officials and representatives to do – how about fixing what is wrong with the state – how about trying to keep businesses from leaving – how about getting for funds to support education and senior citizen care.
    Here are some things you can be doing:

    Banning assault weapons from our streets
    Banning criminals from preying on our children
    Banning assault against senior citizens
    Banning drugs from coming into the city and suburbs
    Banning prostitution
    Banning stupid people from running for government

    • Just axin

      Rapture- how about banning stupid people from making worthless suggestions that your comments identify? Do you just want attention?

      • the rapture

        you answered my call – who’s stupid now

  • Hal

    First off it should be a FEDERAL law –not a state–second of all it really dos seem stupid to waste time on somthing like this but hey–its the “ILLINOIS WAY”

  • Melanie

    There is nothing stupid about focusing on this. Sharks are vital to the ocean ecosystems, which are vital to many aspects of the global economy. Let the sharks die out and a whole flood of problems will follow. Most people are not aware of just how valuable sharks are to the fisheries, and just how much economic and ecological damage would ensue if they were removed from the picture. Don’t underestimate the impact of issues that don’t seem obvious or close to home. In our global society we really do need to pay attention to what everyone is doing because it is all very connected.

    • PG

      @ Melanie – And in a global society, in which we are all connected, if the state of Illinois goes bankrupt (which it will if it continues down the path it is on) the whole nation will suffer. The fallout would be tremendous, and will be brought about in part because of lawmakers trying to make themselves look busy, while actually doing nothing to prevent the looming financial disaster. While the plight of sharks might seem important, and most likely is (I admit, this is a cruel practice), more important issues are at hand and need to be tended to properly.

  • TeeKay

    Lawmakers focus too much on problems that are not essential. Why not focus on crimes, homeless, jobs, etc. Our governments are getting paid too much for these nonsense. If they ban shark fin now, what’s next? We’re killing too many cows? Stop with all these b.s. nonsense and start looking into the budgets! We have the highest gas price in the nation, our tolls are extremely high! you hear kids killing other kids every other day. These are some issues we need to look into first before looking in to sharks?!?!

  • Tom R

    This what you get when they cut their salaries by 3k. Even less work than they did before

  • john

    The politicians are only tryong to protect their relatives, the sharks

    Why not go a step farther and ban shark fishing in Lake Michigan

  • Bustera
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