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. Brad

    Sorry, but this bill is not discriminatory. It's focus is the sharks, not the Chinese culture. Just because they are the only ones that use shark fins doesn't mean it's directed towards them willingly. It's for any and all uses of the fins by anyone. That includes Americans, Italians, you name it. Fact is, most don't want to participate in this barbaric practice anyway so that leaves the Chinese. That's more their problem than anything.

    September 7, 2011 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • SSN660

      I agree with the ban on fins but why not ban the killing of sharks and sale of meat and anything else associated with the shark. I would make the bill look less discrimatory and accomplish the same purpose

      September 7, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      To use such a small amount of the animal and discard the rest in this cruel fashion is the heart of the problem. Between 80 and 100 million sharks a year are being taken from our oceans. This is about greed and ego. If the Chinese think this is discriminatory against them, they should take a look at their practices. Fact is half the animals going extinct in this world are being eaten or used in some virility potion somewhere in China.

      September 7, 2011 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • JKR79

      While I personally abhor it, there isn't anything wrong with the MANAGED fishing, killing, and eating of sharks. The trouble is the shark fin industry kills sharks in an inhumane way and completely wastes the rest of the body. We don't allow trophy hunting for deer either. These are sustainable ways of using our natural resources. Shark hunting should be heavily managed, all parts used, and shark fins should become even more or a rarity, but one that remains available an includes, humane killings and sustainable use of our resources.

      Another option would be to farm the sharks like tuna, salmon, etc. Still, one would want to have humane practices in place for the slaughter of these animals.

      September 7, 2011 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • boogietime

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

      Shouldn't supporters realize that sharks are not a species, but a couple hundred different species?

      September 7, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Melanie

      I agree with you. I don't think the Chinese care one way or the other. The will do this barbaric hunt illegally anyway. They have no regards for any animals in my opinion. Yet, how would they like if we, or anybody else went and decided to kill off their Panda Bears. I often wonder about that, every time I read about the Chinese and their stupid beliefs using parts of animals for their so called medicinal or any other purpose. But then again the Chinese don't care about anything outside their culture, as far as I'm concerned.

      September 7, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Brenda

      It totally is discriminatory: to the unevolved among us. Taking an animal, cutting off its feet/fins then tossing it back to die is NOT a legacy I want for my species. Evolve, cretins, or vanish like the Neanderthals. Your time has come and gone.

      September 7, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Lila

      Chinese = greed and stupidity when it comes to animals. Look what they have done to rhinos, tigers and elephants for their parts.

      September 7, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. joxy

    They well should be banned, the most inhume harvest I can think of, disgusting cruelty. How would the people doing this like their arms and legs cut off, then just thrown in a ditch to die?

    September 7, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. sheilamuirenn

    Sharks are an Apex predator. We need sharks to keep the oceans’ ecosystems healthy. It's the same with eagles, tigers, wolves, owls. Further, the sharks that are tossed back into the ocean, without fins, to die don't care whether the Chinese, English, or the French are the ones who engage in this brutal practice. The people who participate in 'finning' would make far less money if they had to transport entire shark carcass's. There is much more room on the boat for a huge number of fins, never mind all the wasted meat, oil, and life.

    September 7, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Brenda

      Incorrect. The Chinese/Chinese-American culture needs tigers to bolster their diny dinkers. #/snark

      September 7, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  4. BeerBrewerDan

    Guess it's time to throw out my shark fin soup recipe. In to the elephant foot trashcan it goes!

    September 7, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. SayWHAT

    How is trying to save a species that is disappearing from our oceans in any way discriminating against the Chinese-Americans? There's plenty of other fish in the sea that we can all enjoy. I would hope that the Chinese-Americans would be concerned about the impending extinction of this delicacy that they enjoy, or there won't be any around in the near future. Then, it will be all their fault.

    September 7, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      It's just an excuse to whine. White, yellow, red, black, brown.... don't matter the color of your skin, if you breath, you like to whine.

      September 7, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |


    September 7, 2011 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Eleni

      i bet the shark would say the same thing if it took a bite out of you !

      September 7, 2011 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  7. mattmatters

    Mike Eng, while we are sympathetic to your line of thought, it is baseless. Bottom line, the acts of your countrymen are disgusting. when has the Chinese ever respected the sea. Your vessels are involved in illegal fishing all over the world. Don't try to use a smoke screen to evoke the American sympathy. We can see through it. After we ban this you can educate your people on why it was banned. Also we are taking all feature measures to stop China from poaching our seas of it valuable resources. Do you realize your nation is causing such an Imbalance to the Global Ecosystem ?

    Help your people to wake up, that will be your best service to America.

    September 7, 2011 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  8. JE

    It's quite amazing actually...that a state whereby locales try to ban the Whopper doesn't already ban shark fin soup!

    September 7, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  9. james darnley

    it;s not directed at the chinese it;s directed at conservestionism in the effect of saving sharks from dying out.however since they are so paranoid ban it all and leave the sharks alone.

    September 7, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. chang

    Thought they were banning fake shark fins you can wear on the beach to fool other swimmers that there is a shark in the water. Whoosh, close call.

    September 7, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. jimzcarz

    I can't believe its taken this long,What a disgusting practice,They might as well be Trophy hunting.

    September 7, 2011 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. MXD

    I applaud the California legislature for taking this step. Killing a shark solely for it's fin is a crime on the face of it. To be able to kill a beautiful animal and not use all of it's parts shows a complete lack of respect for both the animal, the environment, and the rest of the world. If State Senator Leland Yee does not get this he does not deserve to hold public office. Bravo, California.

    September 7, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  13. Lila

    Finally some good news out of CA. it's a disgusting cruel practice.

    September 7, 2011 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. Engrish

    I'm about as far away from an environmentalist as you can get, but this is a no-brainer, even for me.

    Knowing that shark fins are legal makes me want to check the books to find out if whale meat has been outlawed yet.

    September 7, 2011 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Lila

      Endangered whales are banned. Last year a sushi restaurant was caught serving one and they were closed and charged in Santa Monica.

      September 7, 2011 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jason

    While I am the last person to usually pull the race card out, this law is obviously targeted at a cultural practice unique to Chinese that Americans do not understand. If this was really about sharks, you would ban the sale of ALL shark related materials: shark meat, shark oil, etc. Of course, that would mean that Californians will be denied certain herbal remedies… not to mention the soothing relief of Preparation H (made with Shark liver oil). If finning is the problem – here is an idea – ban finning. Don’t create a law that is overly broad and unfairly targets one particular use of an animal that is uniquely practiced by one culture.

    September 7, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
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