Even Mayor Ed Lee Now “Open To” Learning About Ban

sharkfin.jpgA bill in the California State Assembly banning shark fin soup just got a big push toward approval today when a new released poll showed a vast majority of Californians favoring a ban on the controversial Chinese delicacy.

The poll, commissioned by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, reported that 76% of California voters support making it illegal to sell shark fin soup in the state.

Interestingly, some 70% of Chinese-American respondents supported the ban and were more likely than the general population to be concerned about the practice of shark finning. This is surprising because some Chinese-American leaders, most notably mayoral hopeful Leeland Yee, have come out strongly against the ban–calling it an attempt to, “limit our heritage and our culture.” Yee even went as far as holding an event where journalists could try out the dish for themselves.

Conversely, other prominent Chinese figures have lead the fight against the soup. Board of Supes president David Chiu and Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting (both candidates for mayor) support the ban. One of the bill’s sponsors, Paul Fong, was himself born in China and Houston Rockets star Yao Ming is currently in the Bay Area shooting an anti-finning PSA.

The commercial was the second the Shanghai-born NBA center has done for WildAid, a San Francisco-based wildlife conservation non-profit (here’s the first).

In August, 2006, Yao pledged to stop eating the soup at a press conference for the organization. (Taking the love of the finned beasts to a new level, in 2009 he reportedly even purchased his old basketball club, the Shanghai Sharks.)

While the practice of cutting off a shark’s fin and then tossing it back into the water is prohibited in the United States, environmental groups worry that it’s still widespread–some even theorized shark finning has upset the ecosystem to the point that the population of great whites currently residing off the California coastline has dramatically dropped.

According to Deadspin, however, WildAid’s campaign featuring Yao might be making a difference. “In a recent seemingly in-depth survey of Hong Kong resident(s),” they report “78 percent of them said it was ‘acceptable’ to leave shark fin soup off the menu.”

Closer to home, SF Mayor Ed Lee, who’s said that he eats the soup and supports the ban, told ABC7 Thursday that “I’m willing to learn what it is that people are suggesting is the objective of banning and I’m open to that.”

If you’re worried about how to get that delicious shark fin taste if the dish is ultimately banned, there are still lots of ways to get a close approximation at some of the city’s finest restaurants or in your very own kitchen.

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