Asian American Group Sues to Stop State Ban of Shark Fin Soup

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No more shark fin soup for you!
The Chinese community is hoping a federal judge can force California to stop being a bunch of Soup Nazis.

The Asian American Rights Committee of California filed a lawsuit in San Francisco this week, claiming the state's move to ban the sale of shark fins -- which is used to make the gelatinous Chinese delicacy shark fin soup -- is unconstitutional.

The group claims that Assembly Bills 376 and 853, authored by Assemblyman Paul Fong, violate the Constitution's interstate commerce clause and constitute an unlawful taking of private property, according to the claim.

"Shark fin soup is an Asian cultural delicacy with origins in the Ming Dynasty. It is a ceremonial centerpiece of traditional Chinese banquets, as well as celebrations of weddings and birthdays of one's elders," the committee says in its federal complaint.

Starting July 1, 2013, it will be illegal to own or sell shark fins in California. Anyone caught doing so could face up to six months in prison and a fine of $1,000. The legislature passed the controversial law in attempt to put an end to shark finning, a practice that includes cutting off a shark's fin and tossing the animal back into the ocean, where it dies a slow death.

"Absent a judicial declaration that the Shark Fin Ban violates the United States Constitution, AARCCA's members face potential criminal sanctions for ongoing business activities that they have legitimately pursued for as many as 35 years, in which they have invested substantially, and on which the vast majority of their income depends," the complaint states.

The group noted that a significant number of the shark fins that its members possess, sells, trades, and distributes cross state lines as domestic imports or exports from outside of the United States.

"By outlawing the acquisition, possession or sale of shark fins in California, the Shark Fin Ban not only burdens but entirely eliminates this interstate trade."

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25 comments
VanityDog
VanityDog

In many cases, Americans aren't any better, they are destroying things in their own American way, and just as racist. They are also living homeless everywhere, so this is not really an arguement.

VanityDog
VanityDog

The Chinese may be surprised that along with not supporting their shark fin practices in the United States, we dont support a lot of their practices in China either. They can dream on if they think they are being singled out and discriminated against. Crminal activity by any other name is still criminal activity. Animal and environmental activitsts dont support their brand of slaughter ANYWHERE.

tomoyo
tomoyo

Asians in California are one of the largest threats to PROTECTED wildlife and seafood, simply because these protected species are food delicacies to Asian markets.  (therefore, they have created huge Black Markets) 

They poach California abalone by truckloads at night (2 per day is the State limit).  They take other protected species at will, such as octopus.  They are one of the largest threat to endangered land critters in California, as well.  Leaving entire bear carcasses to rot after taking the paws, spleen and penis.  

It's barbaric at best and California is NOT Asia, and because shark fin soup is a delicacy in Asia does not give this group the right to butcher live 'by-catch' sharks to justify their hunger for exotic foods.  

This lawsuit is going nowhere and it is time that the AARCCA  be looking for a new president.  This one obviously has his head too far in the sand to understand Asian Americans are not entitled to anything they want just because they're Asian.

David McGuire
David McGuire

The argument that  "ongoing business activities that they have legitimately pursued for as many as 35 years, in which they have invested substantially, and on which the vast majority of their income depends," is not a justifiable reason. Unsustainable means just that, and the rate of shark fining and overfishing to supply this trade is causing shark populations to collapse. There will not be another 35 years of this trade at the rate that it is occurring.Ask an Atlantic Cod fisherman about his investment and loss when the whole system collapsed from overfishing, and how the next generations had no fish and no work. Repeat that with countless other examples of overfishing like sea cucumbers, Bluefin Tuna, Caspian Sturgeon.  Cultures must change their negligent practices for the oceans and the human race to survive.  Trow out this frivolous lawsuit. There is no science behind the Plaintiff's argument other than the science of short-term profits for a few at the expense of ecosystem balance.Let Sharks Live.  sharkstewards.org

David McGuire
David McGuire

The fact that the "ongoing business activities that they have legitimately pursued for as many as 35 years, in which they have invested substantially, and on which the vast majority of their income depends" is no argument.  It cannot go on for another 35 years. Unsustainable means just that, and shark finning and the shark fin trade is not cultural but short term economic gain for long term ecological loss.  Ask a Cod fishermen on the Grand Banks about his investment and loss when the whole system collapsed from overfishing.People's practices can change so we all can benefit as a society, and as a race.Let Sharks Live.sharkstewards.org

Eco Gear
Eco Gear

What is the matter with Californians?! You've set a great example for the world in terms of protecting our oceans and the world has followed you in 2012! The snobbiest,poshest hotel in Hong Kong,The Peninsula has removed shark fin soup. Major supermarkets in Singapore are also taking if off their shelves. Are they going to be sued for being rascist? For denying someone their rights to shark fin soup? I think not. Stand firm California! 

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Yanlove

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Yanlove

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Keith
Keith

How about a new Chinese Tradition, saving the environment? This lawsuit is nothing but a cover up for selfish economic reasons.

Imctap
Imctap

Anything can be said to be a "cultural delicacy." Its not that we are asking you to change your CULTURE, just trying to save an endangered species. Your life will not change if one meal is removed. Stop being selfish and help save a species.

BestMate
BestMate

 Soup Nazis ? Are you kidding me ? If anyone is a soup nazi it is the people who commit genocide on sharks by cutting off their fins while still alive and throwing their twitching bodies back in to the sea to die a horrible and brutal death.and are totally running the very real risk of upsetting the balance of nature and destroying the oceans that the people of the world need to exist.

All of this monstrous brutally for a bowl of soup?

If anyone is goosestepping towards infamy it is the people who continue this shameful practice.

Jjkahala
Jjkahala

Please tell me that SFWeekly knows better than to assign a particular political position to the "Chinese community."

sfsoma
sfsoma

The Asian culture needs to evolve.  Barbarian practices are becoming intolerable to most of the civilized world.  Please live like Americans and join us instead of clustering in ghettos like Chinatown and New Chinatown.

Somasf
Somasf

sfsoma, you are so right. They should stop working so hard, studying so much, flooding the top schools with raw academic talent, and cooking the most intricately cruel and deliciously barbaric cuisine.  They should join us in stuffing their faces with dorritos and cheetos while falling down  drunk and puking while watching porn.    Yes, please evolve. 

What was that Gandhi said about Western civilization?  That it would be a good idea? 

Bjod76
Bjod76

Get over yourself mate!! Eating shark fin is wrong! Move with the times!!

Realist
Realist

 Who are you talking to Bjod!! Huh! Who!

Elliot O'Sullivan
Elliot O'Sullivan

Ghandi also said that black people "pass their lives in indolence and nakedness", after his time spent in Africa.

I'm really sick of Asian communities opposing shark fin bans on the grounds that it is descriminatory. You're not the only ones that do it. The largest supplier of shark fin in the world is Spain, and I'm willing to bet a lot of them are not of Asian descent, and yes many conservation advocates are trying to shut down the fishery in Spain as well. Bans like this are to protect a species that is being wiped off the face of the planet. Not joking, most large sharks (particularly Mackerel sharks) are endangered or vulnerable with many regional populations critically endangered. The ones that aren't listed as such tend to be either small non-migratory species or too uncommon to accurately assess stocks - which isn't a good sign anyway. I've seen CITES used to defend the trade a lot, where as CITES only has 3 species of shark on its protected list, virtually no non-mammal marine animals, and is almost always poorly enforced because identification between species is not something your average border patrol can do.

Traditions change, when I go to the doctor for the flu I don't put leeches on my face, I don't often see people publicly burnt on a cross because they're a suspected witch, nor do I see many countries practising slavery based on the notion that it is because they have always done it.

If these people are worried about losing jobs, convert shark fishing boats to tourism boats. Take people diving to go and see the sharks you're not allowed to kill. The value a life shark has over it's lifetime purely in ecotourism trumps the one-time value of a pair of fins many times over.

Somasf
Somasf

Appreciate the uninformed, indignant zealotry y'all.

Here's the context within which you're getting your knickers in a twist: mass extinction, the likes of which we have not seen in 65-250 million years,  Possibly the loss of 95% of all marine life. Curious to be focusing on the eating habits of one group of people when your lifestyle and consumption is creating the greatest loss of species since the cretaceous-tertiary extinction. 

http://www.independent.co.uk/e...

http://www.csmonitor.com/Scien...

But it's always easier to think systemic ecological collapse can be blamed (and turned around) if only those [           ] people stopped eating/doing [             ].

Dino
Dino

 Rose Pak will find a way to profit from it.

Realist
Realist

Why can guys can say all this racist shit but my comment was deleted?

Know this, people. You can argue all you want but this ban doesn't matter, at all. It will not make any difference. In other parts of the world, like China, for instance, the Chinese will continue to fish the waters for shark fin until there are no shark left.

And those Chinese with a taste for fin will continue to get it in California. There will be a black market, as will all banned substances, and there are plenty of Chinese in China and elsewhere that will be more than happy to send packages to drooling relatives.

This bill is silly and a waste of time and money but I'm sure it made somebody feel all good and self-righteous.

Rob
Rob

In general, we should respect the traditions of distinct cultural groups. Surely, American life has benefited tremendously from the contributions of Chinese culture. However, tradition does not provide an adequate basis for relenting on the matter of shark finning. The practice is cruel (fins are normally cut off and then the shark released to the water to die). But one does not have to be an animal rights person to oppose the practice. Sharks are apex predators and so are vital to the function of balanced marine environments. Shark populations are crashing, and the consequences of that are difficult to predict with any reliability. Prudence demands that we mitigate as many of the many pressures on marine environments as we possibly can. The shark fin ban is a necessary (albeit insufficient) step. Given the importance if that issue, I think people are going to have to accept that this tradition's day is done. Your right to practice a tradition of this sort does not outweigh my right to maintain a functioning biosphere. In the final analysis, our fate is irrevocably tied to the ocean's. And if the ocean dies, our fate becomes very uncertain. 

Realist
Realist

 Terrific pontification, sir! I commend you! However, your last line is incorrect. If the ocean dies, our fate is not "uncertain", it is sealed. The ocean dies, we die. And we'd deserve it.

Realist
Realist

Fucking Chinese will eat anything. I say we process Chinese babies and feed them to the poor - they've got plenty to spare.

abrulez1
abrulez1

@Realist I agree but feed em to the sharks let the poor chinks starve.

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