California's Governor, Edmund Gerald "Jerry" Brown, Jr., signed a Shark Fin Ban into law in 2011. Since then, numerous corporate lobbyists have attempted to stop the state from enforcing the law. One of the more surprising arguments to arise from this legal manipulation is the claim that the state's attempt to enforce ecological responsibility is racist.
The Argument of Racism:
Plaintiffs in Chinatown Neighborhood Association v. Brown blatantly stated that upholding the law indicates that the state of California is racist toward Chinese-Americans. The argument is that California's Shark Fin Ban (collectively, Assembly Bills 376 and 853) is an act against those of Chinese descent, based on the knowledge that not every single shark species are categorized as endangered. What is altogether avoided in their argument is the routine practice of indiscriminately slaughtering sharks, to include those protected under the Endangered Species Act, which is in place for those struggling with the ability to exist.
The plaintiffs' argument focused on the apparent perspective that monetary gain far outweighs matters of extinction. The validation for an injunction stemmed from the rapidly depleting accessibility to shark fins, which has purportedly had a negative financial impact on the Chinese lifestyle in California.
The Voiceless Victims:
While humans have the ability to shake their fists and voice their issues over the necessity of obtaining shark body parts, each year tens of millions of sharks are silently slaughtered for their fins through a process known as "finning." Finning is a process whereby sharks are caught, have their fins cut off, and are dumped back into the water, still alive, to bleed out and drown. Aside from the barbarity of this practice and the senseless deaths that follow, sharks are the top of the aquatic food chain. Their disappearance from the chain is conspicuous and affects the entire marine ecosystem. From what researchers have learned, sharks are slow to grow and propagate, which makes them particularly vulnerable to overfishing.
The top 10 countries involved in the marketing of shark fins are Indonesia, India, Spain, Taiwan, Argentina, Mexico, Pakistan, United States, Japan, and Malaysia. In the United States, 85 percent of the shark fin trade comes from California. Therefore, it is logical for the state to institute such bans in an effort to protect endangered marine life from extinction.
In January 2013, Judge Hamilton denied the motion for an injunction. The judge's ruling cited that such an injunction must establish that it causes irreparable harm to the plaintiffs, shows clear entitlement, and that the action is in the best interest of the public. Further, the plaintiffs did not successfully produce evidence that the Shark Fin Ban was enacted with the express intent of discriminating against Chinese-Americans. The evidence produced was anecdotal and unconnected to the reasons for which the law was passed. This law is not only upholding the spirit of the Endangered Species Act, it is also letting taxpayers know that their money is being spent in the manner intended by creating and upholding the Shark Fin Ban.