Shark Fin Watch, Gadfly Alert, the Cereal Shot

Categories: Talking Points
Shark finning has become a focal point all over the Chinese diaspora for discussions about environmental issues.
Today marks the launch of Talking Points: Notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other miscellanea dredged up from the food media.

1. Shark fin watch. One of the criticisms I've heard of AB-376, California's proposed shark-fin ban, is that this state is such a small part of the global market that it will be ineffective in curtailing shark finning. Even though AB-376 has yet to go to committee (Mar. 22, if you're interested), it's inspiring hundreds of blog posts all over the planet; yesterday the bill made the front page of the New York Times.

What's most interesting to me is that the issue of shark finning has become a focal point all over the Chinese diaspora for discussions about environmental issues. Bill Wong, one of the founding members of the Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance, forwarded me a link to this post from an activist in Singapore. The questions it has raised about whether eating shark fin is really a part of Chinese cultural heritage mirror ones Salon's Francis Lam considers in a post today (disclaimer: I get a mention). Even if AB 376 fails, it is making people all over the world talk about changing the way they eat. That's hardly ineffective.

The cereal shot.
2. Oh, San Francisco! C.W. Nevius brings up an oldie but a goodie: How is that San Francisco's permitting processes allow a single gadfly to block something as seemingly benign as sidewalk tables for a little cafe in the Tenderloin? The problem seems as intractable as an easy drive through downtown's grid of one-way streets. Maybe the city should open itself up to creative solutions to deal with these disputes: required group therapy sessions, say, or opening up the approve-or-deny question to American Idol-style text-message voting.

3. Department of bad ideas. For all their talk of variable-pressure espresso machines and coffee-estate elevation, the Third Wave proves it is not immune from Double Down-worthy stunts. Take the cereal shot, for example.

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Yvonne Chu
Yvonne Chu

Yesterday, lawmaker in China, Ding Liguo, deputy to the National People's Congress, proposed that China's top legislature should ban the trade of shark fin. He said, "Only legislation can stop shark fin trading and reduce the killings of sharks" [Shanghai Daily, 2011-3-9].

Yvonne Chu
Yvonne Chu

I agree with Jonathan about AB 376's influence on other countries, such as Hong Kong, China, and Singapore, the three largest importers of shark fin. California is the largest importer outside Asia. Passing the shark fin ban in California, more so than in any other state, will give the activists in Asia a much needed boost. Please contact the committee members to support the bill. A sample email is here. More information is here. I've already emailed all of them, and will call them too.

Eric Mills
Eric Mills

I'm betting that AB 376 will pass with overwhelming support, including from those of Asian descent. Cultural practices should never trump environmental protection or animal cruelty. Note that a similar bill passed the Washington State Senate unanimously earlier this week. Can California be far behind?

Thanks, Mr. Kauffman, for the date of this bill's first hearing, March 22. It'll be before the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, chaired by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), who is also a co-author of the bill. SUPPORT LETTERS AND CALLS FOR AB 376 ARE NEEDED NOW.

The committee members are:

Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) - tel. 916/319-2006

Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), AB 376's principal co-author - tel. 916/319-2022

Linda Halderman (R-Fresno) - tel. 916/319-2029

Bill Berryhill (R-Stockton) - tel. 916/319-2026

Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) - tel. 916/319-2040

Nora Campos (D-San Jose) - tel. 916/319-2023

Mike Gatto (D-Silverlake) - tel. 916/319-2043

Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina) - tel. 916/319-2057

Ben Hueso (D-Logan Heights) - tel. 916/319-2079

Brian Jones (R-Jones) - tel. 916/319-2077

Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) - tel. 916/319-2050

Kristen Olsen (R-Modesto) - tel. 916/319-2025

Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) - tel. 916/319-2008


Should you wish to email as well, here's the pattern for all Assemblymembers:


SAVE THE SHARKS! YES ON AB 376! Meanwhile, I would encourage a boycott of all restaurants which serve this dish of cruelty and environmental destruction, and let the management know why.

Sincerely,Eric Mills, coordinatorACTION FOR ANIMALSOakland

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