The Chinese-American community is digesting some bad news: A judge refused to halt the state's ban on the sale and possession of shark fins -- the main ingredient for the Chinese delicacy shark fin soup.
According to news reports, U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton rejected the Chinese-American groups' argument that the ban, which took effect Jan. 1, 2012, violated their civil rights by eliminating a food traditionally eaten at weddings and festivals.
California's shark-fin soup market was once the largest outside of Asia, but now only fins that are already in the state can be sold and processed until July 1, 2013. Anyone caught doing so after that date could face up to six months in prison and a fine of $1,000.
It all began when state Assemblyman Paul Fong and other critics came to the defense of sharks, claiming some 73 million of the fish are killed annually for their fins, removing a key predator from the marine food chain. The legislature passed the controversial law in attempt to put an end to shark finning, a practice that includes cutting off a shark's fin and tossing the animal back into the ocean, where it dies a slow death.
The plaintiffs' attorney, Joe Breall, told KTVU that he would not appeal Hamilton's ruling, but would move forward to trial.