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Illinois bans sale, distribution of shark fins

Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law July 1st to ban the sale, trade and distribution of shark fins. Illinois is the first inland state to ban shark fins, commonly used in Asian cuisine.

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Illinois bans sale, distribution of shark fins

Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill July 1st banning the sale, trade or distribution of shark fins, commonly used in shark fin soup.

Flickr/Avlxyz

Illinois is now the first inland state to ban shark fins. Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law July 1st banning the sale, trade and distribution of shark fins.

Lawmakers who pushed for the ban say Chicago’s Chinatown neigborhood is a Midwestern hub for the sale of shark fins, commonly used in Asian Cuisine.

In a statement, Quinn said the ban will prevent what he calls animal cruelty and the decimation of shark populations around the world. Many times, after their fins are cut off, sharks are thrown back in the water.

“By limiting the market for shark fins, we will protect ocean ecosystems and shark populations around the world,” Quinn said.

Eddy Cheung owns Phoenix, a restaurant in Chinatown. He said shark fin soup is a traditional dish served at Chinese weddings, but he said the dish is less popular with younger generations and that the shark fin itself does not taste that great.

“I can live without it. There are ways to make a soup better than that, but it’s a tradition,” Cheung said. “The older people say, ‘Well, it doesn’t really sound like a wedding with no shark fin,’ but that’s sort of changing now.”

Cheung said shark fin is expensive, about $500 dollars per pound, so he will not miss serving it. He also said he does not expect to lose wedding business either.

“Nothing will change. They’ll still come to eat, and it’s better for them because they don’t have to pay that much money for the banquet,” Cheung said.

Bin Liu is a manager at MingHin Cuisine in Chinatown. He said he is not stressing too much about the ban. He said his restaurant has a number of alternatives to offer customers.

“For sure, it will hurt a little bit, but, you know, we have to except it. If we can’t sell it, we can’t sell it,” Liu said.

But like Cheung, he did say this is a break from tradition.

“This is like maybe over 1,000 years that Chinese people have used this for celebrations,” Liu said.

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