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Shark-fin ban wins high-profile backers

June 24, 2011 |  2:05 pm

His character ended up as potential shark food in the movie "Titanic," but now actor Leonardo DiCaprio has joined more than a dozen other celebrities in urging state lawmakers to do more to protect the ocean predators from being devoured by humans.

DeCaprio joined  actress Scarlett Johansson, pro basketball legend Yao Ming, pop star Ke$ha and others in writing to the state Senate urging it to approve legislation that would prohibit the possession and sale in California of shark fins, a popular soup ingredient in some communities.

"Assembly Bill 376 will acknowledge the importance of the continued existence of the shark species to maintain a healthy ocean ecosystem,’’ said a letter signed by DiCaprio and others. "The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has concluded that a third of shark species are now threatened with extinction of some kind.’’

The measure, which has been passed by the state Assembly, is opposed by the Asian Food Trade Assn., which says banning the fins without banning the rest of shark meat "unfairly targets the Chinese and Asian eating habits,’’ according to an analysis by legislative staff.

-- Patrick McGreevy