Shark Fin Soup: The Heinous Crime Behind a Bowl of Delicacy
If you're familiar with Chinese and Asian cuisine, then you've probably heard all about shark fin soup. This soup is originally a Chinese delicacy where the main ingredient is—as the name clearly states—a shark's fin. However, the shark fin itself does not produce a lot of flavour and is in fact used primarily for the gelatinous texture it provides. To prevent the soup from being bland, it is often flavoured with chicken or something similar.
As a delicacy, shark fin soup does not come cheap. One bowl can easily cost an average of $100. In the east, shark fin soup is commonly served in lavish business parties and wedding receptions. When the soup is served at family-hosted events such as weddings and birthdays, it is usually a symbol of the family's affluence. Now that China and other eastern countries continue to become more prosperous, the demand for shark fin soup also continues to rise. This demand can be financially good for those who are in the business of shark finning, but it is clearly a death sentence—quite literally—to sharks.
HOW IS SHARK FINNING DONE?
For most people, finding out how the actual process of shark finning is carried out is enough to make them lose their appetite for this delicacy. Basically, the fins are sliced off the body of a shark while it is still alive. Once the fins have been removed, the shark is then thrown back into the water. Without its fins, sharks face an inevitable slow and excruciating death. Some drown because they are unable to remove water from their gills, some are eaten by bigger fish while some eventually drown. To put it simply, for every bowl of shark fin soup that you enjoy, there is a fin-less shark in the bottom of the sea, suffering a slow and painful death so you can have your delicacy.
IS SHARK FIN SOUP EVEN GOOD FOR YOU?
Many people justify the consumption of shark fin soup—and the killing of millions of sharks every year—by saying that the delicacy has health benefits. These alleged health benefits include healthier kidneys, stronger bones and improved appetite. However, there is actually no scientific evidence that supports these supposed “health benefits”. On the contrary, sharks contain a very high level of mercury that can be particularly harmful to women and children.
WHAT IS HAPPENING TO SHARK POPULATIONS?
With thousands of kilos of shark fins being delivered to restaurants each year, and with millions of sharks dying as a result, it is not surprising that shark population numbers are currently on the decline. Sharks only reach maturity after at least 7 years, with some requiring 20 years to become fully mature. Mature female sharks only give birth to one to two pups per year. This means that sharks take a long time to reproduce. In fact, the World Conservation Union has already declared 20 species of sharks as endangered, and more species are likely to soon follow.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Even though movies like Jaws give sharks a bad rep, the fact remains that they are an important part of our ecosystem and with just as much right to live on earth as we do. Only a handful of people are attacked by sharks every year (and the sharks are provoked in most cases) but at least three sharks are dying in the hands of humans every second.
If you wish to do your part to stop the killing of millions of sharks, the first and most important thing you can do is to stop eating shark fin soup. At the same time, spread the word about shark finning and the dangers that our shark populations face today. It is easier to do this now, thanks to social media. There are many organisations that aim to put a stop to shark finning. If you cannot support them financially, you can take an active part in their campaigns or sign the petitions.
For more information: http://www.stopsharkfinning.net/