Calif. Lawmakers Serve Up Vote on Shark Fin Soup

Law unfairly targets Chinese community, critics say
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2011 5:00 PM CDT
Shark fin soup will no longer be legally available at California restaurants if the state assembly passes the California Shark Protection Act next week.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
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(Newser) – California lawmakers may take shark fin soup off the menu of every restaurant in the state next week—or at least try, CNN reports. Fueled by a growing disgust of finning—in which fishermen cut off the fin and toss the shark back in the ocean—the California Shark Protection Act would ban all possession, sale, or trade of shark fins, which sell at $600 a pound. But some say next week's vote unfairly targets Chinese Americans, who consider shark fin soup a delicacy.

"I think for the ban to be culturally blind it has to ban all the products that have to do with sharks, shark meat, shark oil," says a restaurant owner in San Francisco. Also, not all state lawmakers are on board: Assemblymember Mike Eng says California should have taken time to educate the Chinese community, instead of forging legislation that is "going to be forced down our throats." Advocates argue that sharks, which are the top of the marine food pyramid, are becoming extinct partly because of finning.

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