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California Considers Ban on Shark Fin Soup

Shark Fin Soup Bill Passes the California State Assembly 65-8

June 30, 2011

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California passed legislation to ban the sale of shark fins in California 
Shark fins are imported primarily from China and Mexico into the United States.

California, which tends to lead the nation when environmental issues are concerned, is on the cusp of making the sale of shark fins, and more directly, shark fin soup, illegal. The proposed ban on shark fin soup has pitted environmentalists against Chinese Americans who consider the food a delicacy and aphrodisiac. The bill, sponsored by California State Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) has passed the state's assembly but may meet resistance in the state senate. It specifically calls for the banning of the sale shark fin soup in the state.

 The soup, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times, is considered a delicacy and has been served (at some places for $80 a bowl) for hundreds of years, and is a highly regarded food item at Chinese weddings and banquets in the state. However, the process of acquiring the shark fins has many calling for a ban. Fishing ships capture large schools of sharks and fin them, a process of cutting off the fins of the sharks and throwing the rest of the shark, often alive, back into the ocean to drown. Federal law has made it illegal to bring sharks to shore with their fins cut off. The fins, which are harvested primarily off the coast of China and Mexico, are then imported into the United States, which is legal. The practice has been decried for years by environmental groups such as Sea Shepherd and EnviroWatch, as well as conservationists and scientists who claim that the killing of so many sharks causes huge disruptions in the ecosystems in which the sharks are taken. Some sharks, such as the Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), are near extinction, hunted for their meaty fins.

Two California state senators, Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) and Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) both of Chinese ancestry, have written and proposed an amendment that allows the sale of sharks and their fins that are caught in California waters legally as well as the importation of fins from foreign waters that are "certified" caught in a sustainable fashion, the report stated. Shark fin soup has already been banned, effective June 30, 2011 in the state of Hawaii, which has a large population of people of Chinese ancestry, and similar bills have been introduced in Oregon and Washington.

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California Considers Ban on Shark Fin Soup

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Reader Comments

Meg    Long Beach, CA

7/22/2011 3:37:24 PM

Will someone please do a raid on Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles? I was just there and they are selling tons of dried shark fins in all of their markets. If it's illegal now why are they allowed to do this? Someone needs to report them and I don't know who to report them to!

Simon    Wolfeboro, NH

7/5/2011 7:36:49 AM

This is great. Sharks are endangered, and feel pain. No feeling and living being should be treated this way. i am a vegetarian, and fully support this bill.

Carol    Silver Spring, MD

7/3/2011 12:58:17 PM

Population growth has far surpassed allowing for cultural idiosyncracies in our society, particularly when the practice includes animal cruelty. Human sacrifice would not be tolerated in the name of religious or cultural practice. Other living creatures should be cherised similarly.

Eric    Oakland, CA

6/30/2011 10:11:56 PM

The Lieu/Yee amendment(s) should be rejected. It would be impossible to enforce, impossible to tell which fins came from where.

This bill is NOT an attack upon Chinese culture. It's a commonsense effort to stop horrendous animal cruelty and to protect the marine environment: No sharks, no us.

The bill has already been weakened to allow the opponents a one-year grace period, in which you can bet your last yen that they'll be stockpiling shark fins like there's no tomorrow. (The few opponents are merchants, wholesalers, retailers, restaurant owners, and a couple with political ambitions -- all with vested financial interests in the status quo.) And if the current trend continues, there likely WILL be no tomorrow for the sharks. We've already massacred an estimated 90% of the world's shark populations, and for what? Soup and superstition, God forgive us. (Many shark fin soup aficionados think the soup is an aphrodisiac and also cures cancer. Utter crap.)

Shark fin is mostly just gristle, chewy and tasteless. And high in mercury.

AB 376 should be passed as is, with NO further amendments. ALL STATE LEGISLATORS MAY BE WRITTEN C/O THE STATE CAPITOL, SACRAMENTO, CA 95814.

EMAIL PATTERN FOR ALL: (chair, Senate Natural Resources Committee) (author)

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