State Senator Yee, San Francisco Chinese Restaurants Call for Greater Conservation Efforts, Not Ban on Cultural Cuisine

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, state senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) joined dozens of San Francisco Chinese restaurants to oppose a bill to ban the sale of shark fin soup and make it unlawful for any person to possess, sell, trade, or distribute a shark fin.

Yee released the following statement:

“I am very concerned with the plight of many shark species and the illegal shark fining trade.  That is why I support the federal law that bans the practice of killing sharks only for their fins and I would support state legislation to strengthen it.  I would also support legislation to create greater penalties for and enforcement of illegally killing sharks or selling any product from an endangered species.

However, the proposed state law to ban all shark fins from consumption – regardless of species or how they were fished or harvested – is the wrong approach and an unfair attack on Asian culture and cuisine.   Some sharks are well-populated and many can and should be sustainably fished.

Unfortunately, this proposal is just the latest assault on Asian cultural cuisine.  Last week, we had to fight a proposal at the California Fish and Game Commission that would have banned frog and turtle consumption.  I had to pass legislation last year just to allow for the production of Asian rice noodles, and similar bills were needed to allow for Korean rice cakes.  There have also been previous efforts to end live food markets, roasted duck, and several other cultural staples.

Rather than launch just another attack on Asian American culture, the proponents of the ban on shark fin soup should work with us to strengthen conservation efforts.”

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  1. Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance says

    The Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance (APAOHA) attended a press conference with state and national organizations in support of state legislation (AB 376) to ban the sale, trade, possession and distribution of shark fin.

    The Alliance was established to represent the Asian Pacific Americans (APA) voice on the issue of ocean conservation and sea life preservation. Prominent APA artists, activists, scholars and elected officials have already joined the Alliance.

    “APAOHA believes that if sharks continue to be killed just for their fins, the decline of sharks will upset the balance of healthy ocean and marine ecosystems and leave our children and grandchildren with an ocean that is less abundant in food and a world that is less healthy,” stated James Lau, APAOHA Co-Chair.

    The legislation will be authored by Assembly members Paul Fong and Jared Huffman and is supported by scientific, environmental and animal protection organizations that include the California Academy of Sciences, Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Humane Society of the United States, Heal the Bay, Oceana, Natural Resources Defense Council, and WildAid. Similar legislation has recently been successfully signed into law in Hawaii and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

    “Thousands of years of Asian philosophy emphasize the importance of harmony between nature and humanity. Therefore it is imperative for Asian Pacific Americans concerned about protecting the Earth’s natural resources to speak up in support of the ban on shark fin,” said Judy Ki, APAOHA Co-Chair. “Although shark fin soup has been a popular Chinese entree for years because of its association with prestige and privilege, the APA community must help reduce California’s contribution to the shark fin trade in order to protect the ocean ecosystem that keeps our environment in balance.”

    James Lau is the former Executive Director of the California League of Conservation Voters Education Fund and Judy Ki is a retired 7th & 8th grade public school teacher who taught life sciences and ecology.

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