California Residents: AB 376 Action Needed

Posted on August 2, 2011
Written by: Shark Savers

cropped_netted_sharks.jpgCalifornia Assembly Bill AB 376, which would ban the possession, sale, and trade of shark fins in the State of California, will be heard before the Senate Committee on Appropriations on Monday, August 15th in Sacramento.

Opponents of the bill have accelerated their campaign against AB 376 by hiring two of the most powerful lobby organizations in Sacramento. Agents for the opposition have aggressively been lobbying the Senators, and have been rebutting the scientific data regarding shark populations and the impact of the passage of the bill. We hold that the opposition's claims range from incomplete to unsubstantiated to outright false. In response to the opposition's positions, the organizations supporting AB 376, including Shark Savers, have put together a fact page for the Senators definitively refuting opposition points.

Some of the members of the Committee have expressed support for AB 376 without the proposed amendments that will substantially water down the bill. However, other members appear to be receptive to the opposition's claims. We need to keep up our calls to these Senators, as our numbers can be persuasive. At this time, we know that Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Redondo Beach) is one of AB 376’s strongest opposition entities. Sen. Sharon Runner’s (R-Santa Clarita) office has also expressed that she does not support the bill.

California residents: please contact members of the Senate Committee on Appropriations (listed below) between now and August 15th. Let them know you support the bill – without amendments - and want them to pass it out of Committee- without amendments - for continued action in the Senate.

It is especially important that the constituents of these Committee members make the calls, but any California resident will also be influential.

Below are the main points that will help refute the opposition's positions. Further below is the contact information to the Committee members.

  1. The Shark Fin Trade Destroys Shark Populations: The shark fin trade is like the now-illegal trades in ivory, rhino horns, and bear paws, where the demand for a single high-value animal part drives the unsustainable slaughter and waste of the whole animal. This trade is resulting in shark populations collapsing in many parts of the world.

  2. California Contributes to the Problem: California imports and re-exports shark fins from all over the world, including Asia. Approximately 85% of all U.S. dried shark fin imports come through California. Los Angeles and San Francisco are recognized points of entry for the shark fin trade. The U.S. accounts for 70% of all shark fin imports outside of Asia.

  3. Only a Trade Ban Can End California's Contribution and Help Save Sharks:Some AB 376 opponents suggest that California should allow the shark fin trade to continue by "just killing sharks in our own waters to meet the fin demand here." This scheme would be:

    • Illegal. This scheme likely violates the U.S. Constitution and international trade rules. These legal barriers have led other U.S. States that also want to stop the unchecked slaughter of sharks for their fins to adopt the same trade bans as embodied in AB376.

    • Not addressing the problem. The shark fin trade is driven by fishing and finning throughout the world, including international waters. The product is imported to California and the U.S.

    • Highly destructive of populations in California. Currently, sharks in California waters are fished at relatively low rates in just two limited fisheries (mako and thresher sharks). Opposition’s scheme would immediately and strongly incentivize the slaughter of sharks in our waters for their fins – undermining our shark conservation efforts.

    • Unenforceable. There is no good way to track the chain of custody of individual shark fins without exorbitant cost, requiring DNA testing, and inviting laundering and fraud.

    • Costly to taxpayers. The scheme would place additional burdens on State regulatory organizations that are already experiencing significant difficulties with their budgets and loading of personnel. In contrast, an outright ban as called for in AB 376 would add NO COST to any California organization for implementation.

  4. And finally, AB 376 is not a cultural attack: As many in the Chinese community have pointed out, consuming shark fin has never been a defining aspect of Chinese culture. Rather, it is a luxury or extravagance that was originally enjoyed by royalty or the very wealthy, and now by many. In addition, practices do change over time. Others have pointed out that the practice of foot-binding among women was associated with status and beauty until it was banned in 1912 because of its cruelty. In addition, Chinese Civil Right leaders have publically stated that this bill does not discriminate towards Chinese Americans, and the bill has official support from groups such as the TACL (Taiwanese American Citizens League) and TJCC-NA (Taiwanese Junior Chamber of Commerce North America). Finally, polling shows that 70% of California Chinese American voters support AB 376.

Find your representatives: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html

Christine Kehoe

San Diego

(D)

Sacramento office: (916) 651-4039

Mimi Walters

Laguna Hills

(R)

Sacramento office: (916) 651-4033

Elaine KAlquist

San Jose

(D)

Sacramento office: (916) 651-4013

Bill Emmerson

Riverside

(R)

Sacramento office: (916) 651-4037

Ted Lieu

Redondo Beach

(D)

Sacramento office: (916) 651-4028

Fran Pavley

Santa Monica

(D)

Sacramento office: (916) 651-4023

Curren Price, Jr.

Los Angeles

(D)

Sacramento office: (916) 651-4026

Sharon Runner

Santa Clarita

(R)

Sacramento office: (916) 651-4017

Darrell Steinberg

Sacramento

(D)

Sacramento office: (916) 651-4006

Thank you for your continued support of sharks and AB 376.