Overheard in Fog City: Yee Opposes Shark Finning?

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in Culture, Events, News, Politics

Published on May 24, 2011 with 12 Comments

Senator Leland Yee (left) said Sunday he is opposed to shark finning. Photo by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

May 24, 2011

Senator and mayoral candidate Leland Yee set the record straight Sunday telling Fog City Journal he is opposed to the practice of shark finning.

“I am absolutely opposed to the killing of sharks,” Yee said.  “I think that the finning of sharks is not something I support.  I’ve always said that and I continue to say that.  We ought to not allow that to happen. I am very supportive of banning the finning of any sharks whatsoever.”

Asked if his stated position is a reversal of his policy toward shark finning, Yee said, “It’s never been a reversal.  I think if you go back to the very first press conference that I had, the very first statement I said was that I absolutely oppose the finning of sharks.”

Whether it’s a reversal or not, Yee in February held a press conference to “oppose a bill to ban the sale of shark fin soup and make it unlawful for any person to possess, sell, trade, or distribute a shark fin.”

“Yee is calling for greater conservation efforts including greater penalties for and enforcement of illegally killing sharks, but believes the proposed state law to ban all shark fins from consumption – regardless of species or how they were fished or harvested – is the wrong approach and an unfair attack on Asian culture and cuisine. Some sharks are well-populated and many can be sustainably fished,” the press release read.

Daly’s Buck Tavern to host viewing of European Champions League final

Buck Tavern located at 1655 Market Street @ Gough.

Former Supervisor Chris Daly, a sports aficionado and respected pool and darts shark, will open his bar, Buck Tavern, Saturday to broadcast live the European Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona at Wembley Stadium, England.

“I haven’t yet decided between Man U and Barca (I follow Arsenal in the Premiership), so I will be mixing both the Barcelona Fizz and Red Devil cocktails,” Daly said. “Those needing a morning pick-me-up can have either Spanish or English coffees. I’ll also be stocking ‘Cream of Manchester’ (even though it is no longer brewed there).”

Barcelona are ever-so-slight favorites according to bookmaker William Hill.  Heck, if Barca can beat Real Madrid to get to the final, they can pretty much beat anyone! Of course, being an ex-pat from Blighty and a rabid Fulham fan, I’ll be rooting for the Red Devils, who have collected more silverware over the years than Her Majesty, the Queen of England.

Daly said Buck Tavern will open its doors at 11 am, Saturday.  Match kickoff: 11:45 am.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Overheard in Fog City: Yee Opposes Shark Finning? are now closed.

  1. Greg,

    I’m just saying that your posts don’t help the Yee effort. Quite the opposite but that’s just my opinion. Care to talk about ‘shark fins’ some more? Does that really help your candidate since that’s his Achillies Heel?


    Please do not endorse or try to ‘help’ any candidate or issue that I am pushing.

    Go Giants!


  2. h,
    This article didn’t cut Yee any “slack” and you know it. This was a classic example of damning with faint praise.

    It took a position that is frankly perfectly logical and consistent- that is, opposing shark finning while still opposing a bad bill to impose a blanket ban on shark fin soup -and turned into into a question of whether or not it was a “reversal?”

    It’s a page right out of your own playbook, playing on this narrative of Leland supposedly being a flip-flopper. That’s what the article reads like to me, and in reality nothing can be further from the truth.

  3. Strange tactics,

    One would almost think that Greg was trying to alienate a news outlet here and that can’t help Yee. I mean, Jeez, Luke tries to cut Yee some slack on the Shark Fin soup issue and Kamin won’t accept ‘yes’ for an answer.

    You should run the famous Suntan lotion mug shot and dedicate it to Greg Kamin. lol

    Here’s a song for Leland and Greg:


    Go Giants!


  4. Yes, but Luke, none of that changes the fact that only ONE of the TEN species of shark commonly used in shark fin soup is endangered.

    These are the species of shark commonly used in shark fin soup:
    “The preferred shark species for fins are tiger, mako, sawfish, sandbar, bull, hammerhead, blacktip, porbeagle, blue and thresher sharks.”[28]”

    I clicked on every one of those. Go ahead, repeat the excersize, and you’ll see that only the sawfish is endangered. I’ve eaten several of the others purchased in supermarkets.

    This bill would not -repeat, would NOT have banned any of these sharks from being eaten. It would STILL be legal to kill and eat any of these, as well it should be (with the exception of the sawfish). The ONLY thing this bill would have done would be to prevent the use of the fins of these ALREADY LEGALLY KILLED sharks and make soup out of them.

    That’s just madness!

    This is an issue that required a well-crafted, narrow solution, and instead they tried to take a nuclear bomb to it.

  5. Greg, that’s very presumptuous of you to say, “You really need to educate yourself on the issue, rather than just accepting the arguments that sound the most PC.”

    And playing the race card just makes you sound reaching and desperate.

    To quote your own (Wikipedia) reference:

    “Finning is named as a primary contributing factor in the global decline of many shark species.[4] Fishing fleets catch around 70 million sharks a year as of 2010.[5]

    “As their income levels have increased, Chinese communities around the world are showing a greater demand for shark fins[1][6] This increase in demand, combined with the importance of this top predator in the ocean, has the potential to significantly alter oceanic ecosystems.[7]

    “Some researchers believed that from 1996 to 2000, 26 to 73 million sharks were traded yearly. The annual median for the period was 38 million, nearly four times more than the UN estimates, but considerably lower than those of many conservationists.[7] The total was 70 million in 2010.[5] Shark fins are a billion dollar industry.[36]

    “Major declines in shark populations have been recorded in recent years—some species have been depleted by over 90% over the past 20–30 years, with a population decline of 70% not being unusual.[37] Only a small amount of the shark is actually kept. In a process called finning, the fins are cut from living sharks.[38] After the fins have been cut off, the remainder of the fish, which is often still alive, is thrown back into the sea.[38] When returned to the ocean, the finless shark is unable to swim, and sinks to the ocean bottom and dies a slow death.[39]”

  6. Luke,
    You really need to educate yourself on the issue, rather than just accepting the arguments that sound the most PC. Start with the wikipedia article on shark fin soup, which identifies 10 species of shark used in shark fin soup. Of those 10, only one is endangered. That’s right, one. Many of the sharks used in shark fin soup are commonly found in California supermarkets and eaten. It would be a total waste to keep eating these sharks, which again are not endangered, and just throw away the fins. The fins are also used as food, and are a part of Chinese cultural heritage. It seems gratuitously racist to ban shark fin soup while the meat from the SAME sharks, which are already dead and NOT endangered, are still legal!

    Your argument is like saying that we should ban chicken soup because there’s no way to tell whether you’re eating chicken or endangered bald eagle. True, there isn’t, once it’s on the plate. But banning the sale of all birds because, some birds are endangered and you can’t tell them apart on the plate -that’s absurd, and so is this.

    As you said yourself, we already have laws on the books protecting endangered species. If that’s inadequate, then a narrowly tailored law to protect the one species of shark used in shark fin soup that’s endangered… that might be supportable.

  7. Folks,

    I’m the grandpa with the institutional knowledge of Yee’s entire career and y’all are endorsing a con man. Which, thanking God, will make for some great stories as the next few months go by.

    Avalos for Mayor!

    Adachi for Mayor !

    Gonzalez for Mayor!

    Mirkarimi for Sheriff!

    Go Giants!


  8. Seems strange that the Sierra Club would have endorsed State Senator Yee given this discussion. As a vegetarian, banning a particular food item doesn’t necessarily stop people from obtaining it. Yes, sharks are on the endangered species list but Yee was merely suggesting using existing laws instead of outright banning them as a way forward. The Volstead act didn’t stop alcohol use. Nor do draconian drug laws stop the use of marijuana.
    It merely penalizes people who conitnue to use a particular product and in fact, makes people more adamant about using it, illegal or otherwise.

    Banning something outright doesn’t necessarily mean people won’t use it.

    This particular “gottcha” moment falls flat for me. Plus, given so many other things going on locally for many communities in SF the topic of shark fins doesn’t even register. Having gone to three town hall meetings in the Sunset, the Mission and at USF, shark fins didn’t register with citizens whose number one topic was quality of life issues. Violence, street crime, safety, clean streets, bus service and affordable public education were the number one topics.

  9. Greg, when given a bowl of shark fin soup, how will you be able to tell whether the fins were from a shark killed for food or fins from a shark killed only for the fins. By banning shark fin soup, you avoid this evidentiary issue. Otherwise, it would be up to the law enforcement officials to prove the shark was killed for its fins. The Endangered Species Act protects many endangered species. This bill is nothing new; it just takes a different approach to reach a worthy goal — protecting sharks.

  10. Yee testing the waters to see which position will net him the most $$ or voter support. He differers from the average politician in that he has no stand whatsoever. He’s a big blur. The last strong position he took was to try and prevent the demolition of the Central Freeway at the behest of now convicted felon Julie Lee.

  11. Greg, what use does a shark fin have other than for making shark fin soup?

    The problem is shark stocks are rapidly being depleted, just as many fish stocks have been depleted due to overfishing.

    Here’s the other problem, when the price of shark fin soup continues to soar as it will as shark stocks continue to decline, the pressure to kill more sharks increases, further depleting stocks to where the entire ocean eco-system is irreversibly threatened.

  12. It’s important to note that shark fin soup is not the same as killing sharks for their fins.

    If you ask me whether I oppose killing sharks for their fins, I’ll say yes. Who wouldn’t oppose killing an animal just for a small body part?

    But if you ask me whether or not I support that bill that would have made a blanket ban on shark fin soup in California, I’d say hell no!

    That bill was the wrong approach. It was overbroad in all the wrong ways. It would have banned making any kind of shark fin soup, even if the shark was killed for food anyway, and even if the shark is not endangered (and most species of shark used in shark fin soup are NOT endangered). Essentially, it would’ve mandated discarding the fins from legally killed sharks, which is a complete, total, insane waste.

    On the other hand, where tackling the illegal killing of sharks is most needed, in China, the bill would’ve had no effect whatsoever.