In today's Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Gold pens an op-ed supporting the passage of the California Shark Protection Act, which would prohibit the sale, consumption and trade of shark's fin. The bill passed easily in the Assembly (65-8) but faces stiff opposition in the state Senate, where it pits environmental activists against cultural preservationists. Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) believes such a ban would discriminate against Chinese Americans.
Shark's fin, which Gold describes as "bland to the point of nonexistence," is a delicacy in Chinese cuisine, prized for its "ethereal, gelatinous texture." The craze for it has helped reduce some shark populations to 10% of historical levels, while nearly a third of shark species are approaching extinction.
"It's true: The ban would affect mostly Chinese Americans, who make up almost all of the market for fins... But Chinese culinary culture has proved resilient over the centuries, as able to absorb such foreign ingredients as chiles and squashes as it has been to withstand the absence of sea turtle skirt and bear paw, whose preparation obsessed the earliest Chinese gourmets. There is no third way with shark's fin -- we either stop eating it because we choose to preserve the species, or we stop eating it because soon there will be none left to eat."