Tuesday, February 15, 2011

California's Shark Fin Prohibition: AB 376 introduced to protect sharks

The momentum continues to build in opposition to shark finning with the introduction of Assembly Bill 376 in California. This piece of legislation is similar to the legislation passed in Hawaii, banning the possession, sale, distribution, and use of shark fins. This fills the gap left in the federal laws that prohibit shark finning within U.S. waters, but allow sale and distribution.

AB 376 was introduced by Assemblymen Paul Fong and Jared Huffman. I had the opportunity to come to know Assemblyman Huffman when my documentary, Island of the Great White Shark, played in the state capitol in 2010. At the time, Huffman and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher were keenly interested in shark conservation. I'm glad to see the interest did not wane since then.

I have included a link to Pete Thomas' excellent post on the subject of AB 376. Of particular interest to me were two of the responses to his post. Both brought up the issue of Asian culture and seafood, which I discussed in a recent post. One comment, apparently from an Asian reader, brought up the cultural issue by questioning the right of non-Asians to tell Asians what to do regarding shark consumption - a perfect example of the cultural defensiveness that can crop up regarding this issue.

The other comment appeared to dismiss the Asian argument to use shark fins based on the fact that shark fin soup was a once delicacy reserved for royalty, but no longer. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that the demand for shark fin soup and other shark products has never been greater because what was once a luxury item for royalty is now consumed by Asia's growing middle-class. Shark fin soup can readily be found in cans or in the freezer section of many Asian markets, not just royal palaces.

As AB 376 moves forward, whatever resistance it experiences will be fronted by economic arguments but the independence or defiance of a culture steeped in a broad use of all types of seafood will, for some, be bubbling just below the surface.

Read Pete Thomas' post in Outdoors, action and adventure.

1 comment:

Patricia said...

I support the banning of shark-fining. I adamantly support a full healing of damage mankind has caused to oceans and the wildlife that dwells within them.

Concerning AB 376, I ask, are loopholes closed to ensure the gravamen of the meaning of the proposed bill?

AB 376 (c) This section does not apply to any person who holds a license or permit pursuant to Section 1002 and who possesses a shark fin or fins consistent with that license or permit.

“CA Fish and Game 1002 (e) The department may issue a nonresident permit that is valid for 24 months from the date of issuance on application and payment of a base fee of one hundred dollars ($100) as adjusted under Section 713.”

All Sec 713 of CA Fish and Game does is address the amount of the fees for the issuance of a permit.

“CA Fish and Game 1002 (h) A permit under this section does not authorize the taking of fish or mammals from the ocean waters of this state which are within the boundaries of any city if the city has filed with the department an objection to the taking.”

It seems it would be incumbent upon cities (counties?) to file an objection as per requirement 1002(h) for AB 376 to be effective.

Under Section 2 of the AB 376, “Section 2021 is added to the Fish and Game Code, to read:
2021. (a) As used in this section "shark fin" means the raw, dried, or otherwise processed detached fin, or the raw, dried, or otherwise processed detached tail, of an elasmobranch.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute a shark fin.
(c) This section does not apply to any person who holds a license or permit pursuant to Section 1002 and who possesses a shark fin or fins consistent with that license or permit.
(d) This section does not apply to any person who holds a license or permit issued by the department to take or land sharks for recreational or commercial purposes and who possesses a shark fin or fins consistent with that license or permit.

Can we close loopholes and not the gills of the victims the proposed bill seeks to protect?

Patti Balian