Dale de la Rey/AFP/Getty Images
Shark fins displayed for sale in a glass cabinet in Hong Kong's Shueng Wan district.
State lawmakers are expected to vote Monday on a bill that would ban shark fin sales and imports.
Many shark finners cut the fins from live sharks at sea and discard the rest of the fish. The dried fins are sold across the Pacific Rim for cures and delicacies like traditional Chinese shark fin soup.
Hawaii has prohibited shark fin, and Laila Monroe of the Natural Resources Defense Council says that's made Southern California a key entry point for the trade. "We actually import pretty significant quantities of dried shark fin into California through the ports of Los Angeles and San Diego."
Marine conservationists say world populations of sharks are in decline and need protection. Lawmakers who oppose the ban say it discriminates against Chinese-Americans while permitting other forms of shark fishing and consumption.