Court refuses to block shark fin soup ban

A federal appeals court on Tuesday refused to block California's ban on the sale of shark fin soup.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously refused to ban the sale of the soup while San Francisco-area Chinese restaurants and their suppliers pursue their lawsuit to overturn the state law. The suit to overturn the law and reinstate the sale of the soup is also supported by the Obama administration. The law took effect last month.

The Chinese restaurants wanted sales to continue until a trial court decided the lawsuit.

But the appeals court said that the restaurants failed to show they would suffer “irreparable harm” if the ban went into effect while the lawsuit was pending.

The state law that passed in 2011 also bans the serving of shark fin soup, a traditional Chinese delicacy. The law was sponsored by conservation and animal-protection groups whose stated goals are to stop the cutting of fins from live sharks — a practice already banned in federal waters — and to protect consumers from mercury in the fins.

Environmentalists say 73 million sharks are killed annually around the world for their fins.

The restaurants allege banning the Chinese delicacy is discriminatory.

The court said that it's unlikely the lawsuit would prevail, but noted the legal action was still alive and that the restaurateurs and Obama administration could continue fighting the ban in a lower court.

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