California shark fin ban challenged

Chinese community representatives and advocates trying to reverse a culturally controversial California law banning shark fin possession and sales are diving into a hearing today with backing from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled today to review the community groups’ appeal of the U.S. District Court’s denial of a preliminary injunction, along with an amicus brief filed by the Justice Department in support of the appeal.

The Chinatown Neighborhood Association and Asian Americans for Political Advancement sued the state in 2012 to stop the ban from being implemented. The community groups allege the ban, which took full effect July 1, infringes on the Chinese tradition of eating shark fin soup in celebrations that dates back to the Han Dynasty that began in 206 B.C.

The Justice Department’s brief late last month states that California’s new law “obstructs the use of fishery resources lawfully obtained in federal waters.” Federal acts, including the Shark Finning Prohibition Act in 2000 and Shark Conservation Act in 2010, sought to protect the endangered species without sinking the commercial fishing industry.

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