On the Venice pier I once passed a fisherman with a bucket of small, live fish. His tackle seemed disproportionably large for what I thought was his catch. Actually, his bucket was filled with bait fish, and he was catching shark.
Today, 73 million sharks are killed a year. Some scientists say 90 percent of all sharks have disappeared. A third of shark species now face extinction. The over-fishing is not for the meat, which isn’t even used.
Sharks have their fins hacked off and are thrown back into the sea. The fins are used in a traditional Chinese dish, shark fin soup. The growing Chinese middle class is putting tremendous pressure on shark species, and demand has pushed the cost of shark fins to $800 for a 1.6-pound bag.
California controls an estimated 85 percent of U.S. trade.
Washington, Oregon and Hawaii have already passed laws banning the sale and distribution of shark fins. A similar bill, the California Shark Protection Act, passed the state Assembly by a vote of 65 to 8, but it could be derailed in the state Senate’s Appropriations Committee, which is due to consider the bill Monday.
Venice’s state senator, Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), has said that the bill is discriminatory against Chinese-Americans. It's worth noting that the shark protection bill was co-introduced by Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Sunnyvale), a Chinese-American who grew up eating shark fins.
We need to let Lieu know that in his new position in the state Senate, he can take a big step in protecting the world’s sharks. You can contact him here.