State Officials Educate SF Chinatown Merchants About Shark Fin Ban

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – As the months tick down to a complete statewide ban on the possession, sale or trade of shark fins, state officials have been reaching out to local merchants to clarify confusion about the ban.

Some in the Chinese community remain opposed to the state ban, and a federal lawsuit has been filed to try and overturn it.

“It is really ridiculous that right now the fisherman, they have to throw away the shark fins before they take the shark onshore,” said Frank Lee, president of the Organization for Justice and Equality, the group behind the lawsuit.

“That is very wasteful and also it is indeed discrimination,” Lee said.

Lee said the California law complicates matters in an industry where prior federal laws already prohibited so-called finning of sharks.

Confusion has reigned since the California shark fin ban became law in January of 2012, in part because the ban has taken effect in stages.

Store owners, wholesale vendors and restaurant owners quizzed state officials during the meeting at the Imperial Palace restaurant about the parameters of the ban.

A companion bill to the original law gave businesses until July 1, 2013 to sell off any remaining stock already in their possession, even though restaurants have not been allowed to serve what is often regarded as a delicacy in Asian culture for more than a year.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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