Shark Fin Banned, Local Restaurants Respond

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New York is banning trade in shark fins starting next summer in an effort to protect the marine predators. The fins are used in soup popular in Chinese cuisine, and New York is home to one of the nation's largest Chinatowns. An estimated 73 million sharks are killed worldwide to meet the market demand, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed the law Friday.

So-called "finning" of sharks - catching them, cutting off their fins and returning them to the water to die - is already illegal in U.S. and New York coastal waters. New York also prohibits sport fishing for many shark species.

Some restaurateurs in Chinatown said they have been phasing out shark fin soup since other states began banning the traditional delicacy.

"We don't use very much shark fin right now," said Tony Chen manager of Grand Harmony Palace. "Not that many people ask for it."

Chen said that's partly because the soup is so expensive - at least $80 for a small bowl - and partly because shark fin has been difficult to procure since California and other West Coast states banned it. He said the restaurant will stop selling shark fin when the ban goes into effect next July 1.

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