The Beacon

Will California Make a Slam Dunk to Protect Sharks?

Chinese NBA basketball star Yao Ming hopes so. As center for the Houston Rockets, Ming is spreading the word to “Say no to shark fin soup” with his new ads sponsored by Oceana and WildAid.

Ming’s message is traveling through San Francisco by bus, including those on Chinatown routes to support legislation (AB 376) to ban the possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins in California.

Each year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins, mostly to fulfill the demand for shark fin soup. The killing of sharks to supply fins for shark fin soup is driving numerous shark populations to the brink of extinction. Removing sharks from ocean ecosystems can destabilize the ocean food web and even lead to declines in populations of other species, including commercially-caught fish and shellfish species lower in the food web.

A new public poll commissioned by the Monterey Bay Aquarium found that 76% of California registered voters, including 70% of Chinese-American voters, support legislation making it illegal to sell or distribute shark fins in California. Interestingly, 69% of those surveyed who have eaten shark fin soup expressed support for the bill, including 65% of Chinese-American voters.

On Monday, Oceana and other members of the coalition supporting the shark fin ban dedicated the day at the state capitol urging Assemblymembers to support AB 376 as a last push to help get the bill through the next voting stage. Similar legislation supported by Oceana is also making its way through the Oregon and Washington legislatures.

AB 376 will soon be voted on by California’s 80 Assemblymembers. Let’s hope our state representatives join Yao Ming by saying no to shark fin soup.

Ashley Blacow is Oceana's Pacific Policy and Communications Coordinator.


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