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Proposed shark fin ban eased in California

SACRAMENTO, May 20 (UPI) -- A proposed ban on shark fin soup in California has been amended to give businesses that already deal in the Chinese delicacy an extra year.

Democratic Assemblyman Paul Fong had introduced a ban for all vendors beginning Jan. 1, 2012. But he amended his bill Thursday to "grandfather in" restaurants and distributors that already sell shark fins and soup until Jan. 1, 2013, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

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Environmentalists and animal lovers support the prohibition, but it is splitting Chinese-Americans and becoming an issue in the San Francisco mayor's race.

Fong says the California market is spurring rampant illegal shark finning. Fishermen cut off the tails and fins of living sharks and throw them back into the ocean to die.

Many scientists blame the shark fin trade for a catastrophic collapse in the global shark population. Opponents see an attack on Asian culture and say the soup should be legal as long as the whole shark is used.

The Assembly will not take the bill up until next week at the earliest.

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