Ban on Selling Shark Fins Passes California Assembly

Photo: cephalopodcast / cc

A 'product' most commonly procured by slicing off an integral part of a living animal, which is often then tossed back into the sea to die, is one step closer to being made illegal to sell, trade or possess in the state of California: shark fins. For years, the particularly cruel practice has allowed for shark fins to remain a menu item in traditional Chinese cuisine, where it is considered a delicacy. But now, after a lengthy debate on the floor of the state's assembly, lawmakers have sided with reason and decency -- by helping to ensure that sharks' fins remain their own.According to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle, the state assembly displayed showed clear support for the prohibition on of shark fins to be enacted.

California Assembly overwhelmingly approved a ban on the sale and distribution of shark fins in California, moving the state one step closer to outlawing an ancient Chinese delicacy and keeping alive a debate that has split the ethnic community.

The lower house approved the bill, known as AB376, on a 62-8 vote this afternoon after a long floor debate. If the measure is approved by the state Senate, Chinese shark fin soup - a popular tradition at Chinese celebrations including weddings - would be illegal in the Golden State beginning Jan. 1, 2013.

Lawmakers who voted for the ban, such as Democrat Paul Fong of Cupertino, cited the dramatic decline of sharks -- many of which are endangered species -- as reason behind their support for the legislation.

"I knew when I accepted the responsibility (of authoring this bill) - I weighed the cultural implications versus the environmental concerns, and the environmental issues outweighed the cultural," Fong told the Chronicle.

Not everyone is happy about the ban, however. Some have argued that it unfairly targets the Chinese-American community by targeting a traditional dish, shark fin soup, long considered a delicacy.

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Tags: California | Endangered Species | Oceans