A bill which would make it illegal to "possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute a shark fin" is being opposed by California State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who is running for mayor of San Francisco. Every year, an estimated 70-100 million sharks are killed, mostly for their fins, to make shark fin soup. That means approximately 250,000 sharks are killed everyday. The vast majority of sharks are finned on the ship, and then tossed overboard to drown. A pound of shark fins can then be sold for up to $500, making this a multi-billion dollar industry. 90% of the world's sharks have been decimated, in large part to this cruel and unsustainable trade. California is the largest importer and consumer of shark fin products outside of Asia.
As a vocal opponent of a ban on shark fins in California, Mr. Yee publicly declared his opposition to AB 376 and united behind organized opposition to a shark fin ban, stating that it limited Chinese culture and would unfairly outlaw fins from shark species whose status is not endangered. However, the rate of shark fin consumption is unsustainable, and it would be difficult to monitor all fishermen activity. The federal ban on shark finning off of US waters is not enough, we must close markets in California to reduce all sharks from being killed abroad. Let's promote truly sustainable consumption habits, and set a precedent for other countries such as China, to committ to a shark fin ban.
We call on Leland Yee, ALL San Francisco candidates for mayor, and members of the California legislature to support a ban on shark fins (and commit to enforcing it if passed). While candidates such as Leland Yee should be applauded for his history of defending ethnic communities, a ban on shark fins is not an attack on Chinese culture. It is in our collective interest to protect the top predators in our oceans, by ending this unsustainable tradition which could result in the extinction of shark species around the world and a collapse of our ecosystem. Without sharks, we have an overabundance of smaller fish such as sardines, which leads to a shortage of plankton in our ocean and major implications for our planet's supply of oxygen and climate change! In addition, research has shown that shark fins have high mercury content, which could lead to cancer and other health problems.
We must change our habits and save our sharks before it's too late. If we continue eating sharks at this rate, they will be gone forever. Tell Leland Yee and our elected officials to protect our sharks!
Please share with us your comments especially if you are a San Francisco or California resident, or Chinese American!
Mayoral candidates who have written statements in support of the ban: David Chiu, Phil Ting, Bevan Dufty, John Avalos, Joanna Rees
Photo: John Upton / The Bay Citizen