"Update: California Assembly Bill AB 376
Written by Kevin Sullivan
Monday, 20 June 2011 14:51
California Assembly Bill AB 376, which would ban the possession, sale, and trade of shark fins in the State of California, was heard before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on Tuesday, June 14th in Sacramento. Testimony was presented for over an hour in the committee from both supporters and opposition of the bill.
Many California residents contacted the committee members to express their support for the bill prior to the meeting. This action was clearly evident in the Senators' responses to testimony. Shark Savers expresses our heartfelt thanks to all of you who took the time to contact Senators.
Following the testimony, the committee members elected to postpone voting on the bill for two weeks, until June 28th, to allow supporters and opposition the opportunity to submit additional information.
It was extremely clear in this committee meeting that opponents of the bill have now become very organized and mobilized. Agents for the opposition have aggressively been lobbying the Senators, and have been rebutting the scientific data regarding shark populations and the impact of the passage of the bill. We hold that the opposition's claims range from incomplete to unsubstantiated to false. In response to the opposition's positions, the organizations supporting AB 376, including Shark Savers, have put together a fact page for the Senators definitively refuting opposition points.
Some of the members of the committee have expressed support for AB 376. However, a few committee members appear to be receptive to the opposition's claims. We need to keep up our calls to these Senators, as our numbers can be persuasive.
California residents: please contact members of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water (listed below) between now and June 28th. Let them know you support the bill and want them to pass it out of committee for continued action in the Senate.
It is especially important that the constituents of these committee members make the calls, but any California resident will also be influential.
Below are the main points that will help refute the opposition's positions. Further below is the contact information to the Committee members.
1.The Shark Fin Trade Destroys Shark Populations: The shark fin trade is like the now-illegal trades in ivory, rhino horns, and bear paws, where the demand for a single high-value animal part drives the unsustainable slaughter and waste of the whole animal. This trade is resulting in shark populations collapsing in many parts of the world.
2.California Contributes to the Problem: California imports and re-exports shark fins from all over the world, including Asia. Approximately 85% of all U.S. dried shark fin imports come through California. Los Angeles and San Francisco are recognized points of entry for the shark fin trade. The U.S. accounts for 70% of all shark fin imports outside of Asia.
3.Only a Trade Ban Can End California's Contribution and Help Save Sharks: Some AB 376 opponents suggest that California should allow the shark fin trade to continue by "just killing sharks in our own waters to meet the fin demand here." This scheme would be:
◦Illegal. Shark finning in U.S. waters was banned at the national level in 2010;
◦Not addressing the problem. The shark fin trade is driven by fishing and finning in international waters. The product is imported to California and the U.S.
◦Highly destructive of populations in California. At present,sharks are only fished to a limited extent to provide mako and thresher meat to fish markets.
◦Unenforceable. There is no good way to track the chain of custody of individual shark fins without exorbitant cost, requiring DNA testing, and inviting laundering and fraud.
◦Costly to taxpayers. The scheme would place additional burdens on State regulatory organizations that are already experiencing significant difficulties with their budgets and loading of personnel. In contrast, an outright ban as called for in AB 376 would add NO COST to any California organization for implementation.
4.And finally, AB 376 is not a cultural attack: As many in the Chinese community have pointed out, consuming shark fin has never been a defining aspect of Chinese culture. Rather, it is a luxury or extravagance that was originally enjoyed by royalty or the very wealthy, and now by many. In addition, practices do change over time. Others have pointed out that the practice of foot-binding among women was associated with status and beauty until it was banned in 1912 because of its cruelty. Probably every culture has had practices that made sense at one time but were abandoned after people became more knowledgeable.
California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water
Fran Pavley, Chair, Agoura Hills, District 23 (916) 651-4023
Doug LaMalfa, Vice Chair Richvale, District 4 (916) 651-4004
Christine Kehoe San Diego, District 39 (916) 651-4039
Lois Wolk Davis, District 5 (916) 651-4005
Noreen Evans Santa Rosa, District 2 (916) 651-4002
Joe Simitian Palo Alto, District 11 (916) 651-4011
Alex Padilla Pacoima-LA County, District 20 (916) 651-4020
Anthony Cannella Ceres, District 12 (916) 651-4012
Jean Fuller Bakersfield, District 18 (916) 651-4018"