Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hawaii SB 2169 Passes Another Big Step!

The Hawaii bill to ban sale, possession, distribution of shark fins and all shark harvest in Hawaii passed the Conference session with a unanimous YES vote. More work for the legislators to do today, but hopefully the bill will to the House and Senate for votes on Friday.

Thank you all so much for all your letters and phone calls. It has made an enormous impact.

More news very soon!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Update on Hawaii Shark Fin Bill: SB2169

An historic bill is moving through the Hawaiian Legislature calling on a prohibition of shark fin. Since passing the Hawaiian Senate, and then, last week's vote in the Hawaiian House of Representatives, SB 2169 - Relating to Shark Fins - has now moved to the next step in this long legislative process. And once again, it is necessary to rally support to ensure its final passage. There are still a few more steps to go, so please bear with us!

Following is an update from Stefanie Brendl of Shark Allies in Hawaii with instructions on how you can help today.

Here is where we are with this bill:

After passing the House vote, the bill went into "Conference", where Representatives from the House and the Senate are meeting to discuss a final version. Because the bill went through so many changes in the different Committees, the House and Senate disagree on some details of the final language. This is why the Conference is necessary.

The main issue now is that some members of the House are asking for changes that dilute the bill to the point of changing the whole intent. For example, taking out "possession" so that shark fins could still be imported for shark fin soup. And if the Senate and House cannot come to agreement on the language during this Conference process, the bill will not be able to move forward and won't even make it the next step.

The Hawaiian people are overwhelming in support of the measure, including more and more among the Chinese community in Hawaii. But there is still some opposition in the House that is not completely clear.

We have scheduled a press conference for Sunday where we will show the depth of support that we really have. We have invited members of the community to represent the Hawaiian and the Chinese culture, as well as representatives of conservation groups. We will have videos, photos and articles available.

Here is how you can help:

1) Please send a letter to the Hawaii House Representatives:

The important points to include in the letter are:

  • Ask the members of the legislature to please make sure SB2169 will move ahead and become law. Don't let this important opportunity slip away.
  • Legislators, please listen to the majority, and not to the interests of a small group that is trying to hold up this ground breaking movement.
  • The world is watching. Hawaii can make a difference. Legislators can show great leadership by taking a strong stance.

It is important that they realize how many people are watching this effort, and how much impact this will have.

Please address your letters to:

Hawaii State Legislature
State Capitol Building
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

Re: S.B. No. 2169, Relating to Shark Fins

Dear Members of the Hawaii State Legislature,

Also please send a copy to all the Representatives at this address:

2) If you have time, give these offices a call ASAP.

These are the House Representatives on the conference committee that still have objections to the bill.

Speaker Say is not on the committee, but he is the speaker of the House, and therefore has a great deal of influence on all of the Representatives.

Feel free to ask some tough questions and demand answers on why they are hesitating to support this bill. But please keep it polite and respectful! Email addresses are included below in case you want to follow up with materials etc.

Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu ph 808 586-8490 e-mail

Representative Ken Ito: ph 808 586-8470 e-mail

Representative Angus McKelvey ph 808 586-6160 e-mail

House Speaker Calvin K.Y. Say ph 808 586-6100 e-mail

Thank you for your continued support and patience! We will continue to keep you up to date as this bill moves through this - sometimes tedious - process!

Stefanie Brendl
Shark Allies

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Shark Truth Wedding Contest: Closes May 9th!

Please spread the word about Shark Truth and their contest to reward couples who make the decision to not serve shark fin soup at their weddings. Let's help Shark Truth to "Stop the Soup: One Bowl at a Time".

Shark Truth is a not-for-profit consumer awareness group that seeks to engage consumers in a collaborative discussion to find alternatives to shark fin soup. We are dedicated to promoting awareness around the irreversibly detrimental effects of the shark finning industry by specifically working with (and not against) consumers.

Contest Details:


Happy Hearts Love Sharks

Wedding Contest 2010

Did you know that a wedding banquet serving shark fin soup to 300 guests can kill up to 30 sharks? Through the 'Happy Hearts Love Sharks' wedding contest, we will reward couples who submit a video or photo entry of their pledge to Stop the Soup at their wedding banquet and promote shark fin soup alternatives.

Couples can enter now for a chance to our International Grand Prize: a waterproof digital camera and an adopt-a-shark package.

**The first 5 international couples to enter the contest will get the beautiful coffee table book “Sharks Up Close”, which captures the majestic, beautiful shark in photography.

Contest closes May 9th, 2010

Registration and contest details at

Questions and comments? Email

Stop the Soup - Spread Shark Truth


For the Happy Hearts Love Sharks pamphlet and other Shark Truth goodies to download, please contact us.

Want more info?

Why wedding banquets?

'Happy Hearts Love Sharks' wedding contest:

More about Shark Truth:

If you want to help us Stop the Soup or if you have any questions, please contact Shark Truth.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hawaii Shark Fin Bill Passes the House of Representatives!!!!


Perhaps the most significant legislation involving sharks in US history was passed yesterday by the Hawaiian House of Representatives. This bill will prohibit the sale, possession, and trade of any type of shark fin or shark fin product in the State, including State waters.

This bill has stirred up a great deal of political debate, pitting the concerns of ocean health against a lucrative trade. And has also spurred somewhat of a cultural debate, since the Chinese cultural preference for consuming shark fin soup runs counter to the Hawaiian reverence and respect for sharks as powerful "aumakua", which in Hawaiian is defined as a benevolent guardian spirit or family protector.


Former Hawaiian First Lady Vicky Cayetano is the inspiration behind the bill and asked Sen. Clayton Hee to write the legislation. She is a Chinese immigrant, extremely well respected, and a very outspoken proponent of the bill. Sen. Hee, who is half Chinese and half Hawaiian, has served in Hawaii's State Legislature since 1982 and is Chairman of the Native Hawaiian Culture and Arts Program. He introduced the bill on January 20th.

Both Sen. Hee and Mrs. Cayetano have fought hard to keep the bill alive and are determined to see it passed into law. Mrs. Cayetano provided powerful testimony at the recent House Judiciary Committee Hearing, including her statement that "shark fin soup is about as cultural as bound feet". Their efforts were also instrumental in getting the meaure resurrected last week after it had been deferred by the House Judicial Committee by Rep. Karamatsu.

Local conservationists, Stefanie Brendl of Shark Allies and Inga Gibson, of The Humane Society of the United States, have completely dedicated themselves to advocating the passage of this bill for the past two months. Stefanie, through her tireless grass roots efforts, has garnered widespread international attention and support. And meanwhile Inga has been working non stop to help to iron out legal issues, drafting amendments and working on wording changes to ensure that the bill is fair and will hold up to scrutiny. The efforts of these two dedicated women have contributed greatly to keeping SB 2169 moving through all the various committees that had to review and vote on the measure. They have spent almost every other day at the capitol meeting with committee members, working with the opposition and helping to draft amendments, all the while spreading education about sharks, finning and the bill.

And of course the groundswell of public support from within the Hawaiian community and from around the world has been nothing short of phenomenal. Stefanie has rallied the troops at every critical step along the way, assisted by some key contributors, all of whom have spent many, many hours glued to phones and keyboards, pulling out all stops in efforts to keep the bill going.

Among this avalanche of support, most notable has been a statement signed by fifty one members of the Mission Blue Voyage, a National Geographic project which was imagined to fulfill Sylvia Earle's 2009 TEDPrize wish to save the oceans!! This list is a who's who of the world’s most renowned ocean experts – marine scientists, deep sea explorers, technology innovators, policy makers, business leaders, environmentalists, activists and artists.

More letters of support came from renowned Artist of the Sea and Hawaiian resident, Wyland, as well as Hollywood actors, prominent business leaders, and scientists.

The combination of all of these elements has contributed to getting the bill to this point. It has made it through two Senate Committees, three Judicial Committees and a full vote on the House Floor. Many hurdles have been overcome, but there are still a few more steps to go.

Next Steps:

Next week the bill will go to a Conference meeting, in which one Senate Committee and one House Committee get together to clean up any issues with the language, and the "defective" 2050 date will be corrected - see note below. For example, many of you read about opposition from Shark Researchers at the University of Hawaii. They were initially opposed to the bill, because they feared that it would make it illegal for them to possess specimens needed for their research. The original bill did include an exemption for educational and research purposes, but this exemption was taken out at some point in the process. After addressing this concern with the researchers, they are now strongly in support of the bill provided the education and research exemption is included.

Because attempts to kill the bill were not successful, it's very possible that a new wave of opposition may surface.

During the Conference meetings, there will likely be many voices trying to be heard. Some interest groups will surely be vocal in wanting exemptions and less stringent language. Some compromises may have to be made. Support for the bill and full protection for sharks is strong, however.

After the Conference meetings, the bill will move on to a Senate vote.

And after the Senate vote it will be sent to the Governor. The Governor can sign the bill into law or veto it.

At this point we need to sit tight and try to be patient for the next week as the bill goes through the conference process. We'll send another update soon.

In the meantime, thank you to everyone who wrote, made phone calls and spread the word over the past two months!! Our voices really do count and all this effort does make a difference!! Our input will be needed again soon; we'll send an update to let you know what we can do to help.

Please hang in there and stay with us over the coming weeks until this bill is finally signed into law!

** Note about 2050 date:

Legislators insert a "defective date" on many bills that are expected to go through a great deal of discussion and amendments. When a committee feels that all issues have not been resolved, but they want to pass the bill out of their committee to keep it alive, (because the deadlines are so tight) they add the defective date. This signals to everyone that more discussion is needed, but that the bill is essentially alive. Without this option, some bills would get stuck in a committee until every single issue was resolved beyond any doubt. And as a result, these bills would never make it through all the steps within the designated time.

A defective date also forces the bill into a "conference meeting", which means that the bill has to be approved by the "originating body". Again, that's because after a bill has gone through a number of changes, the originating body (in this case Senator Hee's committee in the Senate) is given the opportunity to agree or disagree with the other Committee's additions and changes. This process prevents the bill from turning into something completely different from its original intent.

Once Representatives and Senators that have been designated to the conference committee have agreed on the final draft, they remove the defective date and assign the "effective date". Generally the effective date will be July of the same year or the beginning of the next year.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hawaiian Bill to Ban the Possession, Sale and Distribution of Shark Fins

Thanks to the tireless efforts of:

Stefanie Brendl of Shark Allies, as well as Inga Gibson - Humane Society, Linda Paul - Hawaii Audubon Society, and of course Senator Clayton Hee, who wrote and introduced the bill, and former Hawaiian First Lady Mrs. Vicky Cayetano - the inspiration for the bill! - and many other supporters --- Hawaiian Senate Bill 2169 has made it through numerous , hearings, votes and reviews over the past few months. And it's still alive!!

Yesterday, after the House Judiciary Committee had deferred (translation: killed) the bill, supporters refused to give up. They persevered and were able to get it back into a decision meeting hearing yesterday, where it was voted on and passed out of committee. Now the bill is officially ALIVE again and moving ahead!!!! Getting it out of Judiciary committee was a HUGE step, and certainly the most difficult one so far.

But it's not time to celebrate yet. Lots more work to do.


Following are the instructions from Stefanie and we've also posted an example letter written by Mark Thorpe, founder of the Global Shark Initiative. And please, please keep all letters positive and respectful!!


A) The bill will now go to the House Floor for a vote (probably tuesday).
You can help us tackle the next hurdle by writing to the representatives:

Before Tuesday, April 6
Send a message to all of them (it's just one email address), and ask them to vote in support of SB2169 Relating to shark fins during House floor vote

email address:

include this information

TO: House Representatives
RE: House floor vote on Measure SB 2169 Relating to shark fins

Let them know that this is an important step not only for Hawaii, but also for the rest of the world. Hawaii can be a leader and send a strong message by helping this ground breaking bill pass into law. They should feel good about being in the forefront of such an important issue.

I think it is not necessary to write a lot. If your message is short and to the point, it is more likely to be read.

B) Media coverage of any kind will be very helpful at this point. The kind of coverage that shows that this is a very important and ground breaking effort and that Hawaii will show strong leadership by taking this step. We want to show the politicians that this is getting international positive attention, and they can take great pride in supporting the bill.

And as Sen Hee has pointed out, this will also help the federal bill (Shark Conservation Act) -- an important point he is going to drive home next week.


Example letter from Mark Thorpe:

TO: House Representatives
RE: House floor vote on Measure SB 2169 Relating to shark fins

Dear Representatives,

I write to express my profound request that you see fit to enact the Hawaii Shark Fin Bill: SB2169.

The recent events at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in Doha, Qatar were seen as an affront to the very existence of sharks and the health of our oceans. As a global citizen concerned with the accelerated destruction of our planet's natural resources and stocks I implore that you see fit to help enact SB2169.

As a proud Hawaiian I also draw your attention to the fact that sharks occupy a very special place in the Hawaiian culture. Known as both Kamohoali'i and Ukanipo in Hawaiian folklore these deity have played an integral role in the formation of many proud and strong Hawaiian people. It serves no one, except corporate entities, in allowing the spirits to these cultural deity to be sold to the highest bidder. How anyone involved with the removal of this Bill could then continue to suggest they are a proud Hawaiian would in itself be an insult to those who strive for its enforcement.

I am not here today to inform you of the numbers of sharks slaughtered for their fins on an annual basis. I am not here today to inform you of the effect this is having on our Oceans as a whole and neither am I here to inform you of the mounting number of global citizens who can see these crimes being committed on a daily basis against our birthright, and yet we don't get to have a say.

Instead, today I am here as an individual. I am here as a family member, a parent, a father, a mother, a son and a daughter. I am here to ask you to make a stand and align with the bold actions of leaders in Palau and the Maldives who have recently ordained their waters as official Shark sanctuaries. I am here to ask you to be a role model for emerging generations of proud Hawaiians, to be a catalyst in the request for healthy Oceans, ones that I would be proud to pass on to my children.

Your actions in the coming days will define you as a Hawaiian, as a culturally proud member of this unique race it is your responsibility to ensure that this bill gets passed. The global shark conservation community implores you to 'Do the right thing', for Sharks, for Hawaii and for the benefit of our Ocean planet.

(Your Name)
Proud Member of The Global Shark Initiative

Thank you for your help!!! We'll be posting regular updates on Facebook.

Shark Safe Network Team