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Court Refuses To Block California’s Ban On Shark Fin Soup

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Trays filled with shark fins are displayed at a store in Chinatown on August 24, 2011 in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Trays filled with shark fins are displayed at a store in Chinatown on August 24, 2011 in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) — A federal appeals court in Tuesday refused to block California’s ban on the sale of shark fin soup.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal on Tuesday 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.

A state law that passed in 2011 and took effect last month bans the selling or serving of shark fin soup, a traditional Chinese delicacy. It 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 argue 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.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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