Mayor Lee Resists Stopping Shark Torture

A surprising admission from the normally even-keeled Mayor Ed Lee: not only does he consume shark fin soup on occasion, but he actually opposes a ban on the delicacy that involves torturing animals before killing them.

Biologists say that the evidence is clear: shark fisherman catch the animals live, cut off a piece of their body, and then throw the animal back into the ocean to slowly die. For soup.

Experts believe that a worldwide decline in the shark population is partially attributable to the practice. The San Francisco Bay is currently experiencing its own worrisome decline in the shark population, with many sharks apparently beaching themselves or becoming disoriented for unknown reasons. The finning practice only adds to the toll on the environment.

Because of their unique life cycle, sharks cannot be farmed, so they must be caught in the wild. One third of the world's shark species are near extinction. Although shark finning is illegal in international waters, demand has kept the practice in place.

Some politicians oppose the ban, claiming that an exemption should be made for Asian cultures with a tradition of consuming shark fin soup. Senator Leland Yee has said that finning should be allowed as long as the rest of the shark is sold. But an investigation by the EBX found that demand for shark meat is so low, many stores are unwilling to stock it.

Although Mayor Lee said that he indulged in shark fin soup, he added that he does so infrequently. Lee expressed interest in educating fishermen, rather than banning the soup. It's unclear exactly what his educational materials would consist of.

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