Golden State voters have a soft spot for sharks. That's the finding of a new poll commissioned by Monterey Bay Aquarium to gauge support for legislation that would ban the sale, possession and trade of shark fins in California.
The poll found overwhelming support among Californians of all ages and backgrounds for AB 376, authored by State Assembly members Paul Fong and Jared Huffman.
The bill (heading to the Assembly floor for a vote) would end California's participation in the global shark fin trade that costs the lives of tens of millions of sharks each year and decimates ocean ecosystems worldwide.
The survey of found that 76 percent of all respondents, and 70 percent of Chinese-American registered voters surveyed, supported the shark fin trade ban.
While shark "finning" -- killing sharks only for their fins and discarding the carcass -- is prohibited in all U.S. waters, federal law does not prohibit the import of shark fins from other countries. That's what AB 376 would do.
Support for the bill is across the board: Californians young and old; Democrats, Republicans and independents; men and women; people with college degrees and those without.
Even people who have eaten shark-fin soup are strong supporters of the ban: 69 percent of those who have eaten the soup –- a luxury dish sometimes served at special occasions in the Chinese-American community -– expressed support for the proposed legislation. That includes 65 percent of California Chinese-American voters. Bill co-author Paul Fong, himself a Macau native, stopped eating the soup several years ago because of his concern about what overfishing sharks means for the health of the oceans.
(Demand for shark fin soup drives the global fin trade.)
Only 14 percent of all voters surveyed oppose the legislation, with 10 percent having no opinion. Among Chinese-Americans, only 18 percent of voters oppose the ban and 12 percent have no opinion.
Monterey Bay Aquarium is a lead sponsor of AB 376 and is working with a broad coalition of Asian Pacific American leaders to win passage of the bill. It's also allied with prominent Asian Pacific American "Chefs Against Shark Fins," who have created recipes for shark fin soup prepared without the use of shark fins.
You can take action to support the bill. And, if you'd like to taste a delicious and ocean-friendly soup, you can go here to find a recipe for faux shark-fin soup created for the aquarium by Chef Peter Pahk of Kingsmill Resort in Virginia.
Here's what Hong Kong-born chef Kin Lui of Tataki Sushi Bar in San Francisco has to say about why he won't serve, sell or eat shark fin.