New York state bans shark fin trade!  »


And it wasn’t a giant fucking hassle, either. After a proposal last year, the Legislature passed the bill this May, and Governor Cuomo signed it into law on Friday. Hooray!

“New York will no longer be a haven for the cruel and unsustainable trade in shark fins,” Patrick Kwan, director of grassroots organizing for the Humane Society, said in a statement. “The Empire State has long taken action to protect other threatened and endangered species such as tigers and elephants, now we’re taking action to protect sharks and help end the cruelty of shark finning worldwide.”

[Photo by Phil’s 1stPix via Flickr]


A bill proposes a shark fin ban in New York State! Also: Shark fins may have neurotoxins! Whaa?  » has lots of great info in the fight against shark finning. 

Exciting news:

On Tuesday, legislators in New York State announced a bill that, following the example of Western states, would ban the sale, trading, possession and distribution of shark fins, possibly as of 2013. California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington are enacting similar bans that were passed last year, while Florida, Illinois, Maryland and Virginia have legislation pending.

The bill in New York is sponsored in the Assembly by Alan MaiselLinda B. Rosenthal and Grace Meng, who represents the heavily Asian district of Flushing, Queens, and is the only Asian-American in the Assembly. Identical bills are expected to be introduced in both houses of the Legislature.

Yay! Let’s keep this party going! Everybody ban shark fins! Except on sharks—those are cool. 

There might be even more reason to ban shark fins, a new study says:

Researchers from University of Miami sampled fin clips from seven different species of sharks collected in South Florida coastal waters and analyzed its contents. Upon examination, they detected cyanobacterial neurotoxin BMAA (β-N-methylamino-L-alanine) in the fins of all species with concentrations ranging from 144 to 1836 ng/mg wet weight.

Mind you, the neurotoxin BMAA has been linked to the development of neurodegenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

The report suggests that consumption of shark fins may increase the risk for human exposure to the cyanobacterial neurotoxin BMAA. Until more is known about the possible link of BMAA to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, it may be prudent to limit exposure of BMAA in the human diet, according to the researchers.

Shark-finning is all around grody! Go New York! Read more about the bill introduction and actions you can take on the Humane Society’s website. WildAid invites you to sign their "Say No" pledge to end shark finning. You could also spread around their super infographic—everyone loves and infographic!:


Toronto passes its shark-fin soup ban!  »

Want to know why that shark’s smiling?

In June I wrote a Vegansaurus post about a motion tabled before Toronto’s city council to ban the sale, possession, and consumption of shark fin soup in the city. I’m stoked to report that after a 38-4 city council vote yesterday, shark fin soup is now banned in Toronto. Woo!

The bylaw will take effect in September 2012; fines for the possession and use of shark-fin products will range from $5,000 to $100,000.

For a while it looked like the ban might not happen, when Mayor Rob Ford and a few other councillors argued that it was outside the city’s jurisdiction and instead a matter that lay with provincial authority. I suspect that similar bans in other cities helped make this happen.

It’s important to note, though, that another key factor in getting the ban through was the work of local activists. The Toronto Vegetarian Association did a lot to get the word out, as did groups like WildAid, United Conservationists, and Toronto Loves Sharks. Sharkwater director Rob Stewart also threw his support behind the ban and was on hand for today’s vote.

"Toronto’s action is a huge victory in the global fight against and illegal shark fin trade valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars," said Rob Sinclair, WildAid’s executive director.

Goes to show that groups of local people really can create change! I’m happy to live in Toronto today.

[photo by hunxue-er via Flickr]


Gordon Ramsay takes on shark-finning again. I don’t know much about celebrity chefs and I’m sure Ramsay is not America’s Next Top Vegan but this video is pretty awesome.

Ramsay is kind of a thug. Most of the video is him with people involved in shark-finning or anti-shark-finning but there is some graphic footage of sharks being killed. Another good thing to note is the video sheds some light on long-line fishing; like Ramsay says, it’s “indiscriminate,” as he pulls up a large sea turtle. At the end, he shows his footage to chefs from several Chinese restaurants in Britain. He gets them to agree to stop selling shark fin soup! That’s nice. 

Of course I would love it if Ramsay were vegan and opposed all forms of animal abuse but the fact is that he’s not. But because he’s not, it’s easier for him to preach to the mainstream. Like that Steve Martin movie where someone is like, “you’re a big sinner!” and he’s like, “that’s why you can listen to me!”


Guest post: Toronto to ban shark fin soup?  »

Shark fin soup bans aren’t just gaining traction on the West coast—this week, Toronto’s city council tabled a motion to ban the sale, possession and consumption of shark fin soup in the city. They’re following the lead of nearby Brantford, which became the first city in North America to ban the soup. This is all pretty great news for sharks.

So why is shark fin soup so bad? Well, it kills 73 million sharks every year, to start, according to Oceana— but what’s really awful is that it kills those sharks in a terribly wasteful way. In “harvesting,” the shark’s fin is cut off while the fish is still alive. The shark then gets thrown back into the ocean to drown, bleed to death or be eaten by another creature. No other part of the shark even gets used. And shark species are increasingly threatened; when a top animal on the food chain starts to disappear, it’s bad news for an ecosystem.

Traditionally in Chinese culture, shark fin soup is seen as a sign of prosperity—serving it to your guests during important occasions like weddings is expected by many people, especially older generations. That’s made it harder to get bans in place, but things are changing: aside from in Brantford, the soup’s been banned in Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, and California may be next. Some argue that the ban targets Chinese people unfairly, since many other favorite animal foods are raised or killed in nasty ways; they have a good point there, so maybe we should do something about that too!

Toronto councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker compared the killing of sharks for their fins to use in soup to hunting elephants just for their ivory tusks. “Playing the piano in the city of Toronto actually led to elephants being slaughtered in Africa. We’re learning now that simply going to a restaurant and eating shark fin soup is leading to a slaughter in the oceans and we want to have that stopped,” De Baeremaeker said.

Toronto has a large Chinese population, so the move is sure to receive some opposition. In its current form, the ban would come in gradually so restaurants can go through their existing stock for the soup—that way they can’t claim that they’ll be losing too much money on shark fins they’ve already purchased.

Moreover, the motion has the vote of another councillor, Kristen Wong-Tam, a former president of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto—her support for this ban will hopefully go a long way within the Chinese community. Wong-Tam grew up eating shark fin soup for special occasions, but stopped once she learned what’s really behind it. “We are not going to bring up a fish—a shark that’s 150 pounds—from the ocean, cut off the fins and throw the rest of it back” to sink and die,” she said. “Because we found this out, mom and dad and my sisters and I just decided, the soup no longer had taste. It was no longer something we desired. Oftentimes at banquets we’ve actually refused it.”

See? When you educate people, they can change their minds, even older generations who have been eating the soup for years. The director of Sharkwater, Toronto native Rob Stewart, also favors the ban. If a coming report on shark fin soup is approved, the city will vote on the ban in the fall. Write to Toronto’s city councillors to tell them how awesome they’ll look to the world if they make this move.

Terri lives in Toronto, Ontario, where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues


Top 10 links of the week! A rollercoaster ride through veganism!  »

[Your cute animal viral video of the week! OMG that duck is scary! I feel your pain, dog.]

There are 55 restaurants in NYC that serve shark fin soup, according to Gothamist, but there’s one that just gave it up! He says he decided to drop the item from the menu after encouragement from customers. Awesome!

Bittman commented on this bullshit situation with every state and their mom trying to outlaw undercover factory farm videos. It’s worth a read.

The SF Bay Guardian had a nice panel discussion on eating vegan in the Bay Area. It even includes our Laura! Damn, she gets around.

Some vegan teacher took a naked stroll in his school. Probably because he’s vegan.

Here’s an update on the impending wolf slaughter from the LA Times. I’m not pleased.

Has anybody been to a vegan waffle party? HOW COME I DON’T LIVE IN A VEGAN WAFFLE PARTY?!

This is a bit old but I forgot to tell you guys: Greyhound racing is going out of style! Huzzah!

This was probably the best news all week and it’s my discussion topic: Mac users are 80 percent more likely to be vegetarians than PC owners! How does that hold up with our Vegansaurus readers?! I’m totally allergic to PCs, the ugly hurts my eyes. What does everyone else have? Plus, what’s the connection here? Macs are for art people, right? Are art people more likely to be vegetarians? Who can say!

Here’s your weekly what the fuck: YouTube bans Mercy For Animals video. You know, the one from the Cattle Farm that was going around. I think that video opened a lot of people’s minds! God forbid!

Hipster Animals! I’ll let this picture do the talking:


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.


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.
:  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—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. 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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