Mayor Lee Comes Out Against the Statewide Shark-Fin Ban

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​Today, on the Chronicle's "City Insider" blog, Heather Knight reported that interim Mayor Ed Lee has waded into the fight over AB 376. The bill would block the sale and import of shark fins across California. When Knight asked Lee for his thoughts on the ban, he told her, "I'm not supportive of any bans at this point," a statement that seemed to take her aback not only for its content but for its uncharacteristic bluntness.

Assemblymen Paul Fong and Jared Huffman introduced AB 376, which attempts to help prevent shark finning by eliminating demand, in February of this year. (I wrote about the ban in March.) AB 376 easily passed the Assembly Committee on Appropriations on April 6 and is now awaiting a vote on the Assembly floor.

Lee's rationale for opposing the ban, says the Chron: "We don't have to be anticultural to get to an enlightened method." His statement seems to echo the language that mayoral contender Leland Yee used when he called the proposed ban "an attack on Chinese culture" -- a statement he partially recanted several days later. Seeing as how the post has already attracted hundreds of angry comments, we'll see if the mayor holds equally firm to his opinion.

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Chor999
Chor999

Winners of a shark's fin ban: Sharks, environmentLoosers: businessmenShark's fin is not a needed food staple for people, there are equally good imitation sharks fin.

tsai lee
tsai lee

It was a Chinese tradition to keep women illiterate, feet bound, with no property rights, so would the pro-shark fin trade group be willing to give up the rights held by its female members, mothers, sisters, and daughters in exchange for the right to sell shark fins? For the sake of tradition? I don't think so.

Saimaux
Saimaux

 I will not object to shark fin ban, if caviar is also binned. Sturgeon is also in endangering, they kill the fish for the egg only.

Yvonne Chu
Yvonne Chu

If we continue to eat shark fin soup, in another few decades, the sharks will be gone, we'll leave our children with a decimated ocean ecosystem, and there'll be no more shark fin soup forever.

1/3 of the species of oceanic sharks are already endangered just from the last 20-30 years of eating shark fin soup, a practice that kills up to 73 million sharks a year. Thus if we don't act soon, these sharks will soon become extinct.

Alternative suggestions to the shark fin ban are not enforceable. The shark fin trade has parallels to the ivory trade and our experience with ivory demonstrates that the only way we can enforce it is to cut the demand.

Allowing shark fin to be sold/distributed will ensure that illegal shark-finning will continue unabated. It's very difficult and expensive to ID shark fins. Alternative suggestions to cutting the demand are difficult and prohibitively expensive to enforce, and the state simply does not have enough resources to do it. As you can imagine, people are ingenious at finding ways to get around rules to continue to profit off of shark fins.

For more information on the enforceability issue, check out: http://scienceblogs.com/shifti...http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R2... http://www.kqed.org/quest/blog...http://www.eastbayexpress.com/...

Saimaux
Saimaux

 I will not object to shark fin ban, if caviar is also binned. Sturgeon is also in endangering, they kill the fish for the egg only.

Yvonne Chu
Yvonne Chu

Saimaux, thanks for your reply. Caviar had been banned until populations recovered:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04...

Shark fin is not a cultural delicacy that is singled out – foie gras has already been banned in California (SB 1520, effective 2012).

Perhaps the best analogy for the shark fin trade is the ivory trade. It was only after ivory was banned that the populations of elephants stabilized.

LC11
LC11

Dear Yvonne, it's commendable that you spam every site that posts about this subject. But you're misguided about what the CA ban can do. If you really want to save the sharks, place your efforts on a ban on ALL shark fishing, not just the fin.

pookiecheater
pookiecheater

If providing information on a public message board, but a concerned citizen who identifies herself, is your idea of 'spam,' then it makes me question your objectivity or your reasoning.  If you would like to offer a substantive rebuttal, my guess is Ms. Chu would be happy to engage you.  And you might learn something.

LC11
LC11

It's the exact definition of spam. Someone who simply does a copy and paste of the same text is a spammer, no manner the message. You're misguided and misinformed.

T
T

The overfishing and endangering species do not have any basis and is only propoganda to get the bill passed. After I read the reports of Federal agency NOAA(National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) then I know they are lying! The cruelty shown in campaign video is only show to get your support.

Joe
Joe

Unlike Leland Yee, Mayor Lee does not plan to run for election. So I think he will stick to his statement. As well he should.

DoctorYes
DoctorYes

This moron wouldn't know "culture" if it bit him in the ass.

LC11
LC11

You're the moron, who blabs whatever is neatly fed to you. The California ban is just symbolic, it doesn't stop shark finning going on around the world. The plan hopes that a ban here would trigger a domino effect, and that other cities in Asia might follow.

Mayor Lee is the first Chinese American mayor, so it'd be wrong of him not to speak on an issue that affects the local Chinese community. It's likely that some restaurants might fire some staff because of the loss of revenue.

This is not going to affect the ban at all. And he has every right to speak up.

pookiecheater
pookiecheater

I don't like him being called a moron, but as well as being Chinese. Mayor Lee is a human on this planet and a living creature, and it would be wrong of him not to speak out with those things in mind as well.  If restaurants are going to have to fire people if fins are unavailable due to a ban, well lthen they are certainly going to have to fire the same people if fins are unavailable because there are no sharks left.

And about it being 'just' symbolic, I don't think anyoen is under the misapprehension that the ban is world wide.  But you have to start somewhere - CA has lead the way in many other environments fights as well. 

LC11
LC11

Like I said before, the California ban is just symbolic. Many of those posting angry comments in the internet have stated that the ban affects shark finning around the world, but it doesn't.If local organizers want to save the sharks, then stop ALL shark fishing in San Diego.

Hippie
Hippie

Kind of surprised here... I think that the bill has less to do with suppressing a cultural delicacy and more to do with not overfishing and eventually destroying whole species of sharks simply for their fins. To me the whole idea falls directly under the same category as "whale hunting".

Roth
Roth

Agreed. Betting his opposition is ultimately to keep control of his cultural influence through the SF chinese community. A supposed attack on a culture, or an attack on a species? Culture please.

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