Guest Post: Help ban importation and distribution of shark fins in California!  »

As a volunteer and activist for Sea Stewards, I was thrilled to attend the official press release for AB 376 at the California Academy of Sciences. What’s AB 376 is and why do you care? It is the California Shark Protection Act, which would stop the importation and distribution of shark fins throughout the state. The time is now California! Hawaii already passed a similar ban and other states are starting to move towards a ban.

First I want to commend and thank Assemblymembers Paul Fong and Jared Huffman for backing this bill. For those of you who haven’t heard yet, Senator (and mayoral candidate) Leland Yee of San Francisco came out swinging against it, calling the bill an attack on cultural heritage.

I call bullshit, Mr. Yee. I find it disgusting that we are even having this debate. This movement has the support of many Chinese people, including celebrity Yao Ming and Master Chef Martin Yan, and of the Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance. These people and groups realize sustainability is more important than a bowl of soup. They want their heritage to be saving this species, not damning it to extinction.

Finning a shark alive is torture. Once the fins are removed the shark is thrown back into the ocean and sinks to the bottom, where it either bleeds to death or drowns because it can no longer swim. Because the entire body of the shark is not brought on board the fishing vessels can load their boat up with fins, which can fetch up to a $1,000 apiece (what I hear is the going rate for a whale shark fin).

Sharks play a vital role in the ocean. They are the tigers of the sea, and when you take the apex predator out the whole ecosystem collapses. They are being fished at an alarming rate. About 100 million are killed annually and about a third of the species are now threatened. In the last 15 years, species have declined by 50 percent. This has to stop. Either take it off the menus now or be forced to when there are no sharks left.
So what can you do to help? Please call or write your district representatives and ask for their support on AB 376. If you’re Asian American, you can also join the group Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance. Please check out Sea Stewards and Wild Aid for more info, and attend the Ocean Lovers Film Festival! [Ed.: And check out previous shark coverage on Vegansaurus! Because sharks are fucking rad and we love them.]

Caitlin Ryan is a supporter, volunteer, and activist for local conservation group Sea Stewards where her focus is on shark conservation as well as creating a healthy ocean. Photo from SeaPics.


HSUS wants you to be a better activist. Learn how on Monday!  »

It is marvelous, isn’t it, being vegan? Every new dish you make is Amazing! and every new restaurant is an Adventure! and you know, you 100-percent absolutely no-question zero-doubt Know that your lifestyle choices are the Right Ones. No animals suffered for your food or clothes or shiny hair, and doesn’t it feel great to have such a clean conscience?

It’s just that, as a vegan, you know that living animal-product-free is the minimum. That’s one of the secrets you learn once you’ve properly committed yourself to veganism, right? The anger and guilt and shame you feel for the treatment of animals the world over; they are so strong, and impossible to assuage with a vegan diet alone. No, you’ve got to do something.

Bay Area residents (and visitors with good timing!) are in luck, because on Monday, Nov. 15, the Humane Society of the United States will be holding a free community seminar on how to properly do something, namely, effectively advocating for animals. Because as much as you’d like to chain yourself to a pet shop door and demand all the animals within are given to rescue organizations, that is really not the best use of your time and energy.

Instead, the seminar will address “factory farming, wildlife protection, puppy mills, and local animal issues, and will offer techniques for improving your persuasiveness and engagement as a citizen advocate.” That last one will be especially pertinent, “improving your persuasiveness and engagement as a citizen advocate.” So no more yelling at owners of purebred puppies in Dolores Park, then? Or standing by the “organic” meat section at Whole Foods and snorting really loudly and derisively whenever someone picks up a package? Check.

Here is the best part, as far as your Vegansaurus is concerned: the seminar will be led by HSUS California State Director Jennifer Fearing, a.k.a. the HBIC of the passage of Prop. 2. She directed a hardworking team to victory despite mighty opposition from giant egg conglomerates, which is impressive on its own, but she is awesome in general—you’ll see. Eighth District state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) will also attend, and “will be available to chat with folks and answer questions,” so that’s all right.

It’s completely FREE and should be helpful—HSUS is doing amazing work nationwide. All you have to do is RSVP, and then be at the SF SPCA at 250 Florida St. at 16th Street by 7 p.m. on Monday! The meeting is scheduled to end at 9 p.m. Animals need advocates who know what they’re doing, and this is a wonderful opportunity to learn what exactly a good animal advocate does. So go! Tell your friends—even, no, especially the non-vegan ones, and RSVP for all of you and go!

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