California Bans Sale of Shark Fins

We’ve been studying how we (humans) have been affecting the environment and one example of this is the sale of shark fins for shark fin soup. Shark fin soup is a part of my culture. I grew up eating it at many banquets and I love it; however when I found out how harmful this dish was to our environment and the sharks, I realized why we shouldn’t be serving it anywhere. Most places my family goes to have stopped serving it many many years ago and its been 10 or more years since I’ve had it. For those who don’t know the soup is seen as a sign of respect to your guests. The fishing process for the soup is very inhumane. Many fishermen will cut the fins off the shark then toss them back in the ocean, a horrible way for a shark to die.

Recently California passed a bill to ban Shark Fins in the state of California. Once signed by Governor Brown, California will join Hawaii, Oregon and Washington as states that officially ban the sale of shark fins. Although I am Chinese American and was accustomed to eating this traditional dish, I’m 100% for this ban and feel that those Chinese Americans that are opposed to the bill should take a look at the picture below, because anyone who sees this image and doesn’t get sick just looking at it isn’t human.

I’m half Chinese and Mexican, so big parties and banquets are the norm in my culture, but seeing as we’ve had banquets that don’t have Shark Fin soup for many years, I see no reason why more families can’t follow suit. While some politicians in California claim this is a racial attack on Chinese Americans and their culture, Christopher Chin the executive director of San Francisco-based Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research and Education, wrote in an e-mail that politicians explaining the impact that this is having. In the email he says:

“Sharks are one of our oceans’ top predators, keeping the entire ecosystem in check, but shark populations have declined dramatically over the last few decades as a result of human greed and lack of understanding,” wrote Chin, who is Chinese-American.

Lack of Understanding is the key word here. My culture is all about traditions, beliefs in luck both bad and good, and going against these traditions won’t be well received at all. Just take New Years for instance. I’ve been practicing the same traditions for New Years since I was a kid. Having new clothes and wearing red on that day is something that is in-grained in me, and I do it every year. However, in my opinion New Years and serving shark fin soup as a sign of respect are completely different. I don’t wear the same color red every year but it’s really the symbol that matters. So if you substitute chicken for shark fin in the soup, should it really matter that much?

Now with the ban in California, though restaurants still have till the end of 2013 to completely dissolve their Shark Fin inventory, Hong Kong now has to look at changing their policy as well. It is believed that Hong Kong provides half of the worlds supply of Shark Fins. China has already tried to limit the sale by running campaigns against the sale of shark fin soup from celebrities such as Yao Ming. However no policy is currently in place to prevent or limit the sale of shark fin and if the reports are anywhere close to being correct, it’s far too popular to have any sort of regulation anytime soon.

The only thing I can do is never eat it again, and encourage family members in Hong Kong to do the same, but like I said, it’s not that hard since I haven’t had it in years. Though I will always remember the incredible taste of shark fin soup, the image I showed above will continue to haunt me and I’ll never be able to eat that again.

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