On Tuesday, California State Senate voted 25 to 9 to ban the sale, trade and possession of shark fin and thus the sale of real shark fin soup (there’s always substitute shark fin…). California’s State Assembly had already passed the bill in May (65-8). All that is stopping this bill from becoming law is Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.
Of course, there are some, like State Senator Leland Yee who are opposed to the bill and the media has reported some dissatisfaction amongst the Chinese community:
Chinese American restaurateurs and traders have lobbied against the bill and are being backed by several Chinese American lawmakers. Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) has called it “an unfair attack on Asian culture and cuisine.” But other Chinese American legislators, chefs and celebrities, including basketball star Yao Ming, have backed conservationists.
I can understand how Chinese restaurants might be against the bill due to the financial repercussions. Personally, I find the claims on how this bill is an unfair attack on Asian culture and cuisine laughable. There are a lot of aspects in all cultures and cuisines that have been banned or no longer practiced. I know Assemblyman Paul Fong has given the example of binding a woman’s feet as one clear example that Chinese Americans are not asking to be practiced again.
As I had blogged when I had interviewed Fong, who co-sponsored the bill, I hope this bill passes. Shark fin soup is overrated. Most Chinese order the soup at lavish banquets (usually Chinese wedding ones) to express their hospitality as demonstrate that they are generous (or at least not cheap) and the expense of environmental destruction to ocean’s ecosystem. Let chef’s come up with a new, more expensive soup or dish that is sustainable. Or just sell more alcohol, like Remy XO (for the life of me, I have never had any Remy XO and have always wondered what the XO stands for…). Personally, I’ve never been a fan of shark fin soup – I’d rather have hot and sour or Westlake soup.
To be honest, I don’t know if Governor Brown has expressed any position on this issue. Given his past pro-environmental record, I would be very surprised if Brown vetoed this bill. If the bill is signed, the law will go into effect by mid-2013. When that happens, I fully expect to see news headlines pronouncing, “No more soup for you!”
[Photo Courtesy of Orlando Sentinel]