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As essential as sharks are to the oceans, they are being dramatically overfished, primarily to fill market demand for their valuable fins. Shark fins are used for shark fin soup, a luxury food item sometimes served at weddings and banquets.
Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year, many of which are targeted for their fins. Many shark populations have been decimated by as much as 90%. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports that a full 1/3 of shark species face extinction. Sharks are especially vulnerable to aggressive overfishing because they reach sexual maturity only after years and produce relatively few offspring in a lifetime.
Polls indicated 70% of the Asian American community and 76% of California voters supported the shark fin ban. Despite this, AB 376 became an emotional battleground as shark fin lobbyists defended their interests and some members of the Asian community felt a shark fin ban unfairly impacted them.
However, Sue Chen, Director of Shark Savers, points out that, “Keeping shark populations healthy is in fact a powerful support of Asian culture and cuisine. Asian cuisine is rich in seafood. If you decimate the shark population, much of the seafood that we love in Asian cuisine and culture is certainly threatened. This is not an Asian issue, this is a human issue.
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