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Lawmakers want to take shark fin soup off menus

West Coast lawmakers want to take shark fin soup off restaurant menus. The Washington, Oregon and California Legislatures are all considering measures to criminalize the trade in shark fins.

In Olympia, Republican State Senator Steve Litzow says demand for the key soup ingredient is decimating shark populations worldwide:

"What has been most interesting as I looked into this is that over 73 million sharks are killed every year. Ninety percent of the shark population in the open oceans has disappeared in the last several years. This is another one of the small steps in keeping a healthy ocean."

Litzow spoke right before the Washington State Senate voted unanimously in favor of banning the commercial sale of shark fins.

Meanwhile, the issue has not yet come up for a vote in Oregon. The only reported protests so far have come from San Francisco's Chinatown. There, critics regard the shark fin legislation as a cultural assault on a feast food with a 1,000 year tradition.

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.