endangered

California State Assembly Pushes A Ban on Shark Fins

Northern California-based state assembly members Paul Fong and Jared Huffman are pushing a movement against the consumption of shark fins. The two lawmakers recently introduced Assembly Bill 376 in an effort to make it illegal "to possess, sell, trade, or distribute shark fins in California." Fong tells Mountain View Patch that the current laws are weak considering the growing demand for the so-called delicacy (which can range in price from $25 to $38 at San Francisco restaurants) amid a shark species depletion of "up to 90 percent" that is leading to extinction for the creatures. The proposal does have its share of detractors, many of which claim the bill is culturally insensitive.

Detractors include lawmakers. San Francisco assemblyman Leland Yee opposes the bill, calling it "an unfair attack on Asian culture and cuisine," which Fong, who was born in China himself, rejects as a moot point. Instead, Fong cites the cruel practice of shark finning (removing the shark's fins while leaving the creature alive) as the primary reason the trade in fins should be stopped.

Fong says, "This is not an attack on the culture; this is an attack on the practice." The proposed bill has support from others in the State Assembly and from The Monterey Bay Aquarium. Studies from 2005 show that San Diego and L.A. are thought to be the two biggest entry points for this controversial edible, while the north side of the state hopes to to intervene and ban it completely. Hey, if Alice Waters could forgo it as a favorite last meal, surely the rest of us can too.

What do you think? Is there any reason shark fin should not be banned in California? Is banning it culturally insensitive? Do you enjoy or hate eating shark fin? We'd love to know your thoughts in our comments section.

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