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Shark Finning Bill Passes In Committee

A bill to ban the sale or possession of shark fins sailed through a legislative committee Tuesday.

Democratic Assemblyman Paul Fong wrote the measure which would also ban a Chinese specialty: shark fin soup. Fong said it would also prohibit the practice known as “finning.”

“Most shark’s fins come from the process called finning, where the fins and tails are cut from living sharks and the remainder of the fish, often which is still alive, is thrown back into the ocean,” Fong said. “Mutilated and no longer able to swim, sharks thrown back overboard then sink to the bottom of the ocean, bleeding, drowning and then eaten by other animals.”

Fong’s bill passed its first committee unanimously.

Critics of the legislation include many Chinese restaurant owners as well as Democratic State Senator Leland Yee. Yee calls the bill “an unfair attack on Asian culture and cuisine.” Yee said those sharks that are “well-populated” should be sustainably fished.

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Avatar for user 'cvl'

cvl | March 28, 2011 at 9:50 a.m. ― 5 years, 11 months ago

what are we banning next? chicken, beef, pork, and vege?

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Avatar for user 'yvonne_chu'

yvonne_chu | March 29, 2011 at 10:03 p.m. ― 5 years, 11 months ago

As a Chinese who grew up in Singapore and Hong Kong eating shark fin soup, I strongly support the ban on shark fin trade.

Shark fin is not a cultural delicacy which has been singled out – foie gras has already been banned in California. Even China is considering a ban: Ding Liguo, deputy to the National People's Congress, proposed that China's top legislature ban the trade of shark fin.

One-third of the species of oceanic sharks are now endangered just from the last 20-30 years of eating shark fin soup, thus if we don't act soon, these sharks will be wiped out. Once a species is gone, it's gone forever. These are the bigger sharks, the apex predators, who play an important role in our ocean ecosystem.

Decimating shark populations has many consequences, including collapsing our scallop fisheries, threatening crab populations, and disrupting our ocean ecosystem. We don’t know all of the consequences yet. For a long time, people were killing bats because to them bats are useless, scary blood-suckers. Now we know that some can eat 3x their body weight in mosquitoes each night. Similarly we have to be careful with the ocean ecosystem. In the ocean, phytoplankton produces half of the world’s supply of oxygen.

The shark fin trade has parallels to the ivory trade and our experience with ivory demonstrates that the only way we can enforce it is to cut the demand.

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