Shark fin soup one step closer to being banned in California
Shark fins may be pulled from the shelves of San Francisco's Chinatown if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill banning their sale.
September 6th, 2011
10:56 PM ET

Shark fin soup one step closer to being banned in California

A Chinese delicacy moved closer to extinction Tuesday in California as the state Senate passed a bill banning the sale of shark fins.

The Senate voted 25 to 9 to ban the possession, sale or trade of the key ingredient in shark fin soup. The bill will go to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk for approval.

Shark fins are often acquired through the controversial practice of finning, in which a shark's fins are cut off and the rest of its body is tossed into the ocean. California, home to 1.1 million Chinese-Americans, is one of the largest importers of shark fins outside Asia.

Supporters of the bill hailed the vote as an important step toward protecting an increasingly rare species.

"This hugely important victory in the California Legislature comes not a moment too soon," said Leila Monroe, staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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"With sharks being killed by the tens of millions every year just for their fins, scientists, many Asian Pacific-American leaders and jurisdictions around the country and world agree: The very best way to protect sharks from disappearing from our oceans forever is to ban the sale and trade of shark fins."

Critics said the bill unfairly targeted the Chinese-American community because it only restricts the sale of shark fins, which are used almost exclusively in Chinese cuisine. The bill does not apply to other shark products like oil or meat.

"I think what is most insidious about this particular bill is that it sends a very bad message, not only to us in California but to the rest of the world, that discrimination against Chinese-Americans is OK," Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Lawmakers on Tuesday also approved a second bill that added several key provisions, including an exemption for taxidermists to possess shark fins and giving restaurants more time to use up what they have of the ingredient, the Los Angeles Times reported.

It is unclear what position Brown might take. He has not publicly stated whether he supports the bill.

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Filed under: Animals • California • Sharks
soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. Bonny

    I don't think banning the sale of the fin is the right way to go. If they're going to ban anything, ban the way they obtain the fin. If these people wish to continue eating and serving it, then they should make some sort of agreement with others who are utilizing sharks for meat, oils, etc... so they can get the fins and that's just one less thing wasted from the death of a shark. Killing only for the fin is cruel and needless. Sure, raise the prices, but at least do this in a more ethical way.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Eat Less

      Your parents must be blood relatives, possibly a brother and sister. At $300/lb for the fins, do you seriously think anyone hunting sharks for meat is taking the meat and tossing the fins?

      September 7, 2011 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
    • doesn't work

      Banning how the fin is obtained does not work. Shark fins are obtained in the OCEAN where the sharks live. US laws do not control the ocean. Oceans are international waters and California and the USA cannot pass laws that apply to the ocean. Second, if there was a substantial market for the rest of the shark, the rest of the shark would be sold. Basic supply and demand. However, obviously the fishermen throw the rest back because the shark meat is not worth anything. Shark meat is also famous for being high in levels of toxic mercury. So no one wants to eat that.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. buzzkill

    Bartolmew i agree with your comment so much

    September 7, 2011 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. Raebo

    So I suppose the ashtrays I make out of grizzly bear paws and those lovely whooping crane duvets are next.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. Timetraveler

    After the Chinese have driven to extinction everything that walks, runs, swims or crawls, they'll have to start eating each other. Now THAT would be authentic Chinese food.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
    • jen

      why did i laugh so hard at this...

      September 7, 2011 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Cachuw

      Then the'll ban eating of chinese!

      September 7, 2011 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. dan

    How about asians quit eating every bird, dolphin, shark out there? Really bear claws for medicine. In the US its called livbestock!

    September 7, 2011 at 2:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. Musicdorian

    Discrimination ? Oh please. We've all seen the video of the sharks being mutilated for their fins and then being pushed back into the water in a condition where they will die a slow agonizing death. How unethical it is to buy Shark fins (soup) when they are obtained in this fashion. This isn't about Chinese, this is about cruelty to an animal.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
    • innersixx

      then simply don't buy it or eat it, peoples morals should not become law.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. innersixx

    government shouldn't be telling people what they can and cannot eat. banning the sale and possession of shark fins will not solve the issue of it being inhumane, unless the other states and the rest of the world ban it also.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Mathew

      At some point with the volume of people on this planet certain things will, and should be restricted. If we allow every person to do whatever they want we are in for a rude awakening, because not everyone has morals or is responsible.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Cachuw

      We;ve got the proof all around us. Human's are Killer's!

      September 7, 2011 at 6:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. zongzi

    Shark Fin Soup tastes like water anyway

    September 7, 2011 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
  9. Wei Pan

    The most destructive animal to mother nature has been proven to be the white people . That is a proven fact.
    Will this piece of crap legislation from the ignorant California Assembly precludes farm raised sharks for fins in the future?
    Are sharks endangered ? I suggest intelligent legislators are endangered.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      The reproductive rate of sharks compared to other fish is much lower, making sustainable farming of sharks more expensive than other consumable fish like salmon, trout or tuna. As for endangerment, the article states that many shark breeds have been depleted up to 90% over the last three decades. Whether or not Caucasians are the worst animal, the continued rate of hunting and finning sharks will have drastic consequences on the oceanic ecosystems and should be curtailed immediately.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
    • kmg

      The closet bigot reveals himself. Do you imagine everyone in America to be white? Great time to slip in something racist, huh Wei Pan?

      September 7, 2011 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
  10. Timetraveler

    I'm going to start a new tradition. In 200 years this tradition will be "sacred" to the point no where one will dare question it. The tradition is this: hunt down a Chinese adult in any manner seen fit, use an axe to lop off both legs at the knees, then saw off the shin bones and sell them as pencil holders. Each shin bone should fetch $100-$200, depending on location.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
    • tre


      September 7, 2011 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
    • dv

      ummm yeah and let's fatten Americans, have them live in their own filth, and slaughter them inhumanely like cattle. Or collect human embryos to consume like chicken eggs? You've got some blinders on your moral compass, get cultured

      September 7, 2011 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
  11. bobbygene1

    will this new law give greenpeace a new fleet to attack during the off season for whales

    September 7, 2011 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. hustlenflo

    The main reason California is banning shark fins is to keep Dick Cheney out of the state.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. Reader

    I would like to hack off the arms of those who harvest the shark fins and then let them loose to see how they like it.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. Reality check

    Like banning the killing of whales did anything. Most species of sharks are not endangered at all. You also have to think about how long asians have been killing and eating the fins from sharks. We, humans, are about the sharks only natural enemy and it's intended to be that way to keep down a population explosion.

    September 7, 2011 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      The banning of whaling allowed whale stocks to recover, so in that regard it was successful. Optimistically, a ban like this could be reversed after the recovery of shark stocks, but the ban should be enacted sooner rather than later.

      While the Chinese have been eating shark fin soup for centuries, the recent economic advancements in China have led to a wealthier working class that can consume the delicacy outside of normal holidays, weddings and special events. This demand has risen so much that now other countries, like Brazil, are depleting their own stocks of sharks to cash in.

      As for sharks, they have no natural enemies. They are among the apex predators of the ocean and are designed to keep other fish and mammal species in check, consume rotting corpses, and are part of a larger overall ecosystem. They are prehistoric animals that have been around for tens of thousands of years. If there hasn't been a population explosion then, I doubt there will be one now.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jerome

    Too bad they don't implement an illegal immigrant ban.

    September 7, 2011 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
    • dv

      This is a race issue.

      So it's wrong for a culture to consume a fin of a shark? What about hunting for "sport"? We've destroyed many species over here, and it's not even for food! Why are we ok with that?

      And if I remember correctly, some parts of the US eat pickled pigs feet and bull testicles... I would personally rather have some shark fin soup

      September 7, 2011 at 3:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Cachuw

      Sounds like a plan! Shark Fins are an important topic,
      so are the people's taking over our homeland being illegal alien's.
      The are already breaking our law with no care's of being caught.

      September 7, 2011 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
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