More than 20,000 people recently joined a viral campaign on the social website Change.org, asking California lawmakers to approve A.B. 376, a bill that would ban the sale of shark fins in the state. Change.org is a website that allows social activists to ban together and gain support for a range of causes.
More than 73 million sharks are killed every year through finning, a process where fishermen slice off a shark’s fins, then throw the fish overboard to bleed to death or drown.
Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and several countries have already passed bans on the sale of shark fins. About 85 percent of U.S. shark fin consumption occurs in California.
The campaign was started by the Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance (APA Alliance), an organization made up of members of the Asian-Pacific American community. Opponents of AB 376 say that the legislation assaults Chinese-American culture, as shark fin soup is a traditional dish served at major events like banquets and weddings. The APA Alliance formed to give voice to Asian-Pacific Americans who favor shark conservation and hope to ban the finning of sharks.
“The vast majority of supporters on the Change.org petition have Asian Pacific surnames, showing that AB 376 is not considered an attack on Asian culture,” said Bill Wong, creator of the petition and a member of the APA Alliance. “Because Asians are the main consumers of shark fins, many of us strongly believe that we must be at the forefront of the effort to save the sharks.”
The APA Alliance launched its campaign back in February of 2011, when AB 376 was still in Assembly. Since then, the online petition has gained nearly 21,000 signatures and continues to gain popularity. Supporters hope the petition will help push the legislation through the next vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
California’s Senate Appropriations Committee was supposed to vote on AB 376 on August 15th, but the vote was pushed until August 24th and 25th. If AB 376 is approved, it will move on to a vote in the full Senate.
For more information visit www.change.org.
Ban Shark Finning