There are some laws in some areas worldwide, but ultimately, they're incredibly difficult to enforce.
The 2000 U.S. Shark Finning Prohibition Act restricts shark finning in all federal waters and both coasts. It also calls for an international effort to ban shark finning globally. The first international ban on finning was instated in 2004 with sponsorship from the United States, the European community, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Panama, South Africa, Trinidad (Tobago) and Venezuela, and support from Brazil, Namibia and Uruguay. This international ban, however, has proven to be more posturing than action since only the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Namibia, South Africa and the European Union (EU) have actual laws in place.
Much of the problem surrounding laws with shark finning is enforcement. If a country sees fit to create a law, they have to then somehow come up with the resources to monitor the oceans over which they have jurisdiction, and to punish those who break the law. Some countries just simply don't have the resources.
Beyond the shores, laws can help by curbing access to the fins that are sold. For instance, Hawaii has outlawed selling shark fin soup. Difficulty in getting the soup decreases demand, which decreases the selling price and makes finning less attractive of an option to fishermen. But again, the product is such an embedded part of Asian culture that decreasing demand is about as difficult as monitoring all the fishing boats on the ocean. Not impossible, but difficult.
Arauz stated, "Shark finning is not only cruel, it is irresponsible and unsustainable fishing at its highest degree. In spite of this, it has been close to impossible to attain any international binding management and conservation measures to curtail this practice."