With a new year comes new laws — and shark fin soup is now banned in Nevada. SB 194 was signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval in June and went into effect on January 1.
The soup — historically popular at Asian weddings, Lunar New Year celebrations and other formal gatherings — is more about texture than taste. Its flavor comes from the meats, vegetables and seasonings in the broth while the bland shark fin is mostly used to create a unique chewy and stringy effect.
As noted in the Reno Gazette Journal, the harvesting process has come under fire in recent years. After the fin is removed, sharks are often tossed back into the ocean where they’re no longer able to swim properly and survive.
The publication also reports a handful of restaurants in Northern Nevada that served shark fin soup over the years have either removed it from their menus or are no longer in business.
The Animal Welfare Institute listed at least 14 locations in Las Vegas that served or offered shark fin soup in 2017, including Strip casino restaurants like Beijing Noodle No. 9 at Caesars Palace, Jasmine at the Bellagio, Blossom at Aria, Fin at the Mirage and the ultra-exclusive Paiza Club at the Venetian. The organization also says the delicacy was carried at Ping Pang Pong at Gold Coast and Chinatown-area spots like Capital Seafood, Harbor Place and Joyful House.
All of those restaurants are now prohibited from selling shark fin soup. Some may choose to sell a common imitation version that uses bean thread noodles in place of the fin and is considerably less expensive.
SB 194 defines shark fin as “the fresh and uncooked, or cooked, frozen, dried or otherwise processed, detached fin or tail of a shark.” The law also includes a ban on products involving other at-risk creatures like rays and sea turtles as well as larger land animals like elephants, rhinos, tigers and leopards. Punishment for violating the new law can include a fine of up to $6,500 or an amount of four times the market value of the offending product — whichever is greater.