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02/22/2011

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.

11/22/2010

Shark fin soup is bad news! Here’s how you can help!  »


Poor sharks! They are being hunted and killed for their fins to make shark fin soup. SF Appeal had a great piece about the issue last week and I learned so much! The soup is a traditional dish in many Asian countries served at special occasions. It’s supposed to show how much of a baller you are because it costs up to $100 a bowl. LAME! SFAppeal and other sources are blaming the shark’s bad rep for the indifference to the fact that 70 million sharks are killed annually and 30 percent of shark species are threatened with extinction. Seventy million? Goddamn. Many times, because people don’t want shark meat, their fins are cut off while the sharks are still alive and then they are just dropped back into the ocean to die. OUCH! You can see just how awful it is on YouTube but I won’t assault you here.

Sea Shepherd (everyone’s favorite vigilantes) has a campaign against shark-finning, part of which is changing your perspective on sharks:

Myth:  Sharks are bloodthirsty man-eaters and ruthless killing machines.
Reality
:  More people are killed each year by falling vending machines than by sharks.

San Francisco has a lot going on with regards to shark-finning. Wild Aid, which seems pretty awesome, has its headquarters in SF. Check out their volunteer opportunities. San Francisco-based journalist Erica Gies is also involved with Wild Aid; read about her efforts on spot.us—a very interesting site on its own I might add. You can also read her interview with shark-activist and Goldman Environmental Prize-winner Randell Arauz. Sea Stewards has an initiative called The Shark Sanctuary that is devoted to better understanding and conservation of sharks in the Bay Area. You can sign their petition to the city to ban shark fins and shark fin products in SF. Hawaii actually became the first place to ban shark fin soup earlier this year; maybe San Francisco could be next?!

On a national level, here’s a list of restaurants to avoid because they serve shark fin soup. New York and San Francisco totally stand out with the most restaurants listed. L.A. and Las Vegas do pretty well, too. Stopsharkfinning.net has a list of other ways you can help. You can also donate money to the Sea Shepherd for their shark conservation work. Read Oceana’s report on the international fin trade here.

[images via Stop Shark Finning and SF Shark Sanctuary]

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