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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shark Fin Ban: Assemblyman Paul Fong Talks Sharks and Soup

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2011 at 12:55 PM

click to enlarge A political shark
  • A political shark

It's become rather clear where majority of California's legislators stand on banning shark fins. The controversial bill swam through the Assembly last week with a 60-8 vote, and is now headed to the Senate floor. If it passes the Senate, lovers of shark fin soup will have to spit out the gelatinous Chinese delicacy. Anyone who is busted selling, trading, or even in possessing shark fins will be breaking state law.

But what always struck us as interesting is the fact that Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), the author of the bill is himself Asian. And considering so many people claimed that this bill was an assault on the Chinese community, we had to ask Fong: How might Fong's legislative victory affect his relationship with a major part of his constituency -- Asian Americans. 

SF Weekly food writer Jonathan Kauffman recently sat down with Fong to talk sharks and soup. Here's a snippet of the conversation:

SF Weekly: Were you taking a political risk with your constituents by introducing a shark-fin ban?

Fong: No, not actually. Seventy-six percent of all California voters, and 70

percent of all Chinese American voters in the state, support a ban on shark's fin. So

it wasn't a risk. In my area, I only received eight opposition letters,

and received thousands of letters of support. Those opposing the ban

were mostly people who have been involved with the shark's fin trade,

either suppliers or restaurants.

SF Weekly: Given the fact that there are already federal laws banning the practice of shark finning, what led you to introduce a state bill banning all shark fin sales?

Fong: The federal law has been toothless. It hasn't been

effective in curtailing the market for shark fin. So we had to cut off

the demand.

Read the full Q&A at SF Foodie.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF

and @SFWeekly

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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