The statewide ban on the sale of shark fins that took effect January 1 is getting a new challenge this week as two Asian American groups are going to be filing for a preliminary injunction against it claiming it discriminates against Chinese Americans. The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco federal court, says that the law discriminates by “targeting and suppressing ancient cultural practices unique to people of Chinese national origin.” This legal wrangling is similar to what’s going on now in Los Angeles federal court regarding the foie gras ban, however there the argument is one of financial harm to foie gras producers, and a judge has denied the injunction but allowed the suit to move forward.
The shark-fin ban, though it is in effect, allows people to sell previously legally procured shark fins through July 1, 2013. This latest lawsuit, following on much similar protest from the Chinese community when the law being debated, is being filed by the San Francisco-based Chinatown Neighborhood Association and the Burlingame-based Asian Americans for Political Advancement.
And we’ll just point out one loophole in the ultimate enforcement of the ban. The law states that it will be illegal to sell shark fins that were detached from the bodies of sharks who were thrown back in the water, a practice which is already illegal under federal law, but how will law enforcement be able to prove that the sharks weren’t caught some other way, making the fins legal?