Proposed shark fin ban divides Chinese-American lawmakers

Shark fin soup
Shark fin soup
Sifu Renka/Flickr

Environmental groups including Heal the Bay and the Natural Resources Defense Council are holding a rally Saturday to protest the Chinese tradition of service shark fin soup. And the demonstration’s location at the Manhattan Beach Pier holds special significance.

Manhattan Beach is represented by State Sen. Ted Lieu, who one of the two Chinese-American lawmakers who oppose a bill banning the practice known as “shark finning.” It’s grown more popular with middle class Chinese here, and in China.

Lieu and Democratic Assemblyman Leland Yee argue that a ban would disproportionately affect Chinese communities.

Lieu says allowing restaurants to serve shark steaks in Beverly Hills while banning shark fin soup in Monterey Park is discrimination.

Assemblyman Paul Fong, the author of the proposed ban, counters that shark extinction is a real threat, and that shark finning is cruel.

The proposed legislation carries fines of up to $10,000.