I spent the last week traveling across California and meeting with hundreds of Californians as part of my book tour. At each stop, people asked about the legislative fight in Sacramento to stop shark finning—a harshly cruel, wasteful, and totally unsustainable trade. It is estimated that up to 73 million sharks per year are slaughtered for their fins—in short, these marine creatures are mutilated and killed all for a bowl of soup.
Earlier this year, Oregon and Washington lawmakers approved bills to ban the sale of shark fin products, building on the previously enacted laws in Hawaii, Guam, and the Northern Marianas. Now, California must act, especially so because it is the biggest market for shark fins outside of Asia.
On Friday, I joined Leonardo DiCaprio and the leaders of WildAid and the Natural Resources Defense Council in writing a letter to members of the California State Senate in support of the proposed shark fin ban, Assembly Bill 376.
The bill, authored by Assemblymen Paul Fong and Jared Huffman, is backed by The HSUS, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Oceana, the Asian Pacific Ocean Harmony Alliance, and dozens of other conservation-minded organizations representing millions of Californians. It would save sharks and help marine ecosystems by banning the possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins in California. In addition to DiCaprio, last week’s letter was signed by Edward Norton, Scarlett Johansson, Ke$ha, Ben Stiller, Kristen Bell, Kelly Hu, and Chinese basketball star Yao Ming.
Tomorrow the bill faces its toughest test—in the Senate Natural Resources committee, where the lobbyists for the shark finning industry and the restaurants that serve this cruel item are pinning their hopes on blocking the bill (which already passed the Assembly 65 to 8). The opponents are led in the legislature by San Francisco state senator Leland Yee, who is a candidate for mayor.
If you live in California, we need your help. Please contact your state senator and ask him or her to support AB 376.
In particular, if you live in any of these senators’ districts (you can look up your district here), your call today is essential.
Sen. Alex Padilla – (916) 651-4020
District includes: Van Nuys, Canoga Park, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Pacoima, and other cities of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County.
Sen. Lois Wolk – (916) 651-4005
District includes: Davis, Woodland, West Sacramento, Fairfield, Elk Grove, Winters, Dixon, Tracy, Manteca, and Stockton.
Sen. Ted Lieu – (916) 651-4028
District includes: Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, and Torrance.
If you live outside of California, take our no-shark fin pledge now.