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Thread: Banning Shark Fin Soup

  1. #1
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    Banning Shark Fin Soup

    This proposed ban sparked a huge controversy in S.F. We just ran a PSA for WildAid with Yao Ming speaking out against shark fin soup. It's on page 21 of March April 2011 issue.

    Calif. shark fin bill would ban Chinese delicacy
    Peter Fimrite,Jessica Kwong, Chronicle Staff Writers
    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    A law that would ban the sale and distribution of shark fins in California, preventing hundreds of restaurants from serving an ancient Chinese delicacy, was introduced Monday, igniting an emotional debate between conservationists and Asian leaders.

    The bill, introduced by Assemblymen Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, and Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, would halt all California trade in shark fins, which are used to make Chinese shark fin soup, a tradition at banquets among Chinese people around the world.

    Assembly Bill 376 says the California market for the expensive dish is helping drive rampant illegal shark finning in international waters. The practice involves cutting off the tails and fins of living sharks, which are then thrown back into the ocean to suffer and die.

    The shark fin trade is believed by many scientists to be responsible for a catastrophic collapse in the worldwide shark population.

    "I grew up on shark fin soup, but when I found out the effect it is having on the shark population two years ago, I stopped eating it," Fong said during a news conference at San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences attended by local shark experts, Chinese American chefs and environmentalists.

    He likened shark finning to removing the tusks from elephants and the paws from tigers.

    "The sharks are at the top of the food chain, and they maintain the balance in the ecosystem. If sharks fall, it will be like a house of cards. The rest of the ocean will fall," he said. "We need to stop this practice at the marketplace."

    The proposed law, coming on the heels of a similar ban passed in Hawaii last year, faces considerable opposition from Chinese American restaurant and market owners, sea food distributors and fishermen.
    Yee decries 'attack'

    State Sen. Leland Yee, who is running for mayor of San Francisco, called AB376 an "attack on Asian culture."

    "Right now, Costco sells shark steak," Yee said. "What are you going to do with the fin from that shark? This is another example in a long line of examples of insensitivity to the culture and traditions of the Asian American community."

    Michael Kwong, a local seafood processor whose family has been in the business since 1905, said sharks are not even targeted by fishermen.

    "It's usually a bycatch, but when they do catch a shark, they are going to use it. The entire carcass gets used," said Kwong, one of several restaurateurs and business owners who accompanied Yee at a news conference opposing AB376. "If this bill passes, there will be a lot of collateral damage."
    Adequate protection

    Shark fin supporters say an existing federal ban against shark finning by U.S. registered vessels is adequate protection. Shark fins cannot be imported into the United States unless the entire shark is captured and used.

    Huffman pointed out that federal law does not apply to foreign-registered vessels, and it does not ban the sale of shark fins.

    "If you'll excuse the pun, it's toothless," Huffman said.

    Environmentalists argue that fishermen often target sharks solely for their fins, which are by far the most valuable part of a shark. Dried shark fin in San Francisco's Chinatown goes for between $178 and $500 a pound.

    Shark fin soup, which has a gelatinous quality, costs between $250 and $500 for 10 people, depending on the quality and quantity of the main ingredient. It has been a traditional dish at banquets going back as far as the Han Dynasty, 1,800 years ago, when emperors and royals began consuming it. It is considered one of the four "treasures" of Chinese cuisine, along with abalone; fish maw, or bladder; and sea cucumber.

    Marine biologists say there has been a 99 percent decline in oceanic whitetip sharks in the Gulf of Mexico over the past 15 years and an 89 percent decline in hammerhead sharks in the northwest Atlantic. The decline coincides with multiplying demand for shark fin soup by the burgeoning Chinese middle and upper classes.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported in 2005 that San Diego and Los Angeles are the two top entry points for shark fins in the United States. Dried shark fin can be found in many shops in San Francisco's Chinatown and around the Bay Area.

    Shark fin has lost a little luster among some Chinese Americans who are aware of the environmental consequences.

    Guo Sheng Lei, the executive chef at Louie's California Chinese Cuisine in San Francisco, said he has been serving shark fin soup for the past 25 years, but now only serves it upon request.

    "I don't want to serve it," he said. "It's not good to have an imbalance in the ocean ecosystem. As a chef, I try not to contribute to that."
    Health benefits

    Ming Lee, 68, was having tea at Louie's on Monday. He said he eats shark fin on special occasions for the health benefits.

    "It's good for the body. It has calcium and protein, and Chinese believe it is good for the bones and prevents cancer. It's like eating natural medicine," said Lee, who moved from Hong Kong 25 years ago. "I eat shark fin, because I feel like sharks eat a lot of fish, and we're killing the killers in the sea."

    Charles Phan, the chef at the Slanted Door Vietnamese restaurant, and celebrity chef Martin Yan have thrown their weight behind the bill.

    "It's never easy when you try to tell people what not to eat, but, in my view, the ocean needs protection," Phan said. "You might call it part of Chinese culture, but if you keep it up, shark will disappear. We need to do what's right for Mother Earth."

    John McCosker, the chairman of aquatic biology for the California Academy of Sciences and one of the world's premier shark experts, said as many as 30 species of sharks are in danger, including great white sharks, which often swim in international waters.

    It is a problem, he said, because studies have shown that the entire ecosystem, including many other species, suffer when the top ocean predators are gone.

    "Sharks as top-level predators have disappeared within my lifetime," McCosker said. "At the same time, the ocean ecosystem has degraded. The two are interconnected."
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  2. #2
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    Not only is there a market for shark fins, there is also a rampant fake shark fin market.

    I liked the anti shark fin soup ad with Yao.

    No need to wipe out an animal for only one part. the entire shark can be used and should be if you are going to eat them.
    Mouth Boxers have not the testicular nor the spinal fortitude to be known.
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  3. #3
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    hmmm.... I guess this means no more yue chi gao...dang.
    "My Gung-Fu may not be Your Gung-Fu.
    Gwok-Si, Gwok-Faht"

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    Any of you ever see Jaws?

    We're just getting revenge!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by chusauli View Post
    Any of you ever see Jaws?

    We're just getting revenge!
    Amen, Brother! ..er, Uncle...

    White tip sharks are known man-attackers.
    I have no qualms about killing them, Makos, Tigers, Great White...
    I also have no problem killing Black Widows, Brown Recluses....
    "My Gung-Fu may not be Your Gung-Fu.
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    "I will not be part of the generation
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  6. #6
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    Shark also passes off as swordfish in many markets. Tastes pretty much the same, looks pretty much the same too. I have no qualms about using all the sharks up. We would never use them up though. But, just collecting the fins does seem a waste. If they were to filet both sides as well they would increase their dollar take considerably. If you can't eat them up, what good are they? It is not like you can go to the beach and sit and look at the sharks.

  7. #7
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    The loss of any major predator is tragic

    Speaking as a major predator myself, I hate to see others go extinct.

    It's become quite the battle here after Yee's statement. Here's an overview from a PBS blog.

    Shark Fin Trade Puts Sharks At Risk
    by David McGuire • February 23rd, 2011

    The growing demand for shark fin soup is helping to drive rampant illegal shark finning in international waters and the California market is contributing to this problem.

    The ocean defines the San Francisco Bay culture. Our maritime heritage, our climate and our commerce are all interdependent upon the ocean and ocean resources. Fishing, whale watching, bird watching and even shark watching are important parts of our local economy and enjoyment.

    The bay adjoins a National Marine Sanctuary resplendent with whales, seabirds and the white sharks that visit the Farallon Islands. Yet these and other sharks pupped in the San Francisco Bay are at risk to international fisheries. Sharks are seriously at risk in the world ocean to overfishing and the growing threat of shark finning. This is why California is taking a stand for shark conservation by proposing a bill to regulate shark fin sales. The shark fin trade is believed by many scientists to be responsible for a catastrophic collapse in the worldwide shark population.

    The practice of shark finning involves cutting off the tails and fins of living sharks, which are then thrown back into the ocean to suffer and die. Shark fins are used in the delicacy shark fin soup. The growing demand for the exotic dish is helping to drive rampant illegal shark finning in international waters and the California market is contributing to this problem.

    To help protect sharks, Bay Area Assemblymen Paul Fong and Jared Huffman have introduced a new bill to increase protections for sharks. This bill, AB 376, seeks to reduce the demand for shark fins by targeting the market for fins in California. Himself an Asian Pacific American, Mr. Fong grew up in Hong Kong consuming shark fin soup. After he learned of the effect it is having on the shark population, he stopped eating it. In this effort, Mr. Fong is joined by Chinese-American chefs, scientists, fishermen and conservationists in a coalition to stop the sale of shark fins in the state. Although we have laws against killing sharks solely for their fins, shark fins are imported from Ecuador, Costa Rica, Hong Kong and other countries. The shark fin sales ban will help protect sharks worldwide.

    As top predators, sharks are the architects of ocean ecosystems, yet even as we are trying to study our local sharks with the California Academy of Sciences, we are losing sharks to fisheries offshore. Up to 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins, with some shark populations declining by as much as 90 percent as a result. In fact DNA sequenced from fins purchased in San Francisco indicate that the fins come from sharks all over the world, over half threatened as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). One unrecognizable bag of noodles purchased was once a Great Hammerhead Shark, a species that can grow up to 18 feet and weigh 1500 pounds. Hammerheads sharks are highly coveted for soup and it has been well established that the finning industry targets these species. Perhaps 3 % of this shark made it to market if the animal was finned.

    State Senator Leland Yee, who is running for mayor of San Francisco, called AB 376 an "attack on Asian culture." However a groundswell of supporters of AB 376 are Chinese, including some of the bill’s Sponsors, a group called the Asian Pacific American Ocean Harmony Alliance. Since the announcement, an overwhelming response has come from our local Asian community, primarily in support of the bill.

    Agreeing that shark finning is wrong but calling a ban on sales extreme, Mr. Yee stated that some sharks are well populated and many can and should be sustainably fished. While there are some shark fisheries, most have collapsed after any intensive effort, and others have fewer and smaller sharks. He calls for measures already in place by the Shark Conservation Act, and to test fins at the ports: an expensive and time intensive process that is impracticable for our customs authorities. These are not viable alternatives. Due to their reproductive biology, which includes late onset of maturity, few young and long gestation periods, sharks cannot be farmed and do not stand up to a focused fishery. Fully one third of all shark species are on the IUCN Red List. Thirty are endangered and populations are decreasing for most others.

    Fishing a shark population to provide fins and even meat cannot supply the world or even local demand for shark fin soup. In the 1950's, Soupfin sharks in the San Francisco Bay were fished to a state of commercial and ecological collapse. Sixty years later, this population may have just recovered from that fishery. In fact, to this day we don’t know how many Soupfin sharks live in the Bay This is not an issue of race or culture. This is an ecological imperative. Cultures evolve just as our methods of harvesting the sea must evolve. With 80% of the world’s fisheries in collapse, and sharks threatened with extinction at the current rate of fishing, we need to take drastic measures now.

    Our common culture is the Ocean, a culture of all races, and the health of the oceans and fisheries are our common resource. The current market for shark fin is unsustainable and AB 376 will help reduce that demand and restore ecosystem health. San Francisco’s Ocean Culture must lead this charge for ocean health and for sharks.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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    I'm all in favor of saving the poor cute little sharks, I really am, but banning shark fin soup, and not other shark products, makes no sense to me.

    If killing sharks for just the fin is already illegal, then either that should be better enforced, or else shark fishing should just be outlawed entirely.

    As long as shark meat can be caught and sold...well what is the point of forcing fisherman to throw out the most valuable part of the catch? That's just wasteful. It would be much better to put a tax of some kind on shark-fin so that shark-finning is less profitable...

    But anyway, the real problem seems to be poachers...so passing laws isn't the answer, enforcement of laws is the problem. (IMO)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Chiang Po View Post
    Shark also passes off as swordfish in many markets. Tastes pretty much the same, looks pretty much the same too. I have no qualms about using all the sharks up. We would never use them up though. But, just collecting the fins does seem a waste. If they were to filet both sides as well they would increase their dollar take considerably. If you can't eat them up, what good are they? It is not like you can go to the beach and sit and look at the sharks.
    Mako Shark passes for swordfish, and used to be served as such. Now people order it by name.
    You can eat shark, but not all sharks are tasty. Blue sharks are known to be not so good.
    "My Gung-Fu may not be Your Gung-Fu.
    Gwok-Si, Gwok-Faht"

    "I will not be part of the generation
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  10. #10
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    didn't they find shark cartilge to have cancer fighting properties?
    Are you sure the AMA and pharmaceutical companies aren't behind all this?
    They banned leatrile in the US.
    "My Gung-Fu may not be Your Gung-Fu.
    Gwok-Si, Gwok-Faht"

    "I will not be part of the generation
    that killed Kung-Fu."

    ....step.

  11. #11

    Some success on the Shark Fin soup front

    It looks like Yao and WildAid are having some success in banning shark fin soup in China. Consumption is down 50 to 70%.

    Shark Fin soup

    Quote Originally Posted by Yahoo Sports

    Yao Ming’s presence in the fight to ban the selling of shark fin soup in China is being credited for an affirming-wave of anti-shark fin sentiment in Yao’s home country. The ancient practice of culling a shark’s fin for high-end cuisine has been derided for decades outside of China, as the shark is usually left to bleed to death in the sea instead of reasonably harvested for its entire body. The growing number of endangered sharks was affecting the food chain and delicate ecosystem balance in the Pacific Ocean.

    According to the Washington Post, though, things are changing as more and more diners from Yao’s home turf are becoming aware of just how destructive the shark fin trade had become. We reported on Yao’s participation in the fight two years ago, and in the time since we’ve seen significant and tangible change for the better. From the Post:

    Thanks to a former NBA star, a coalition of Chinese business leaders, celebrities and students, and some unlikely investigative journalism, eating shark fin soup is no longer fashionable here. But what really tipped the balance was a government campaign against extravagance that has seen the soup banned from official banquets.

    “People said it was impossible to change China, but the evidence we are now getting says consumption of shark fin soup in China is down by 50 to 70 percent in the last two years,” said Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid, a San Francisco-based group that has promoted awareness about the shark trade. The drop is also reflected in government and industry statistics.

    “It is a myth that people in Asia don’t care about wildlife,” Knights said. “Consumption is based on ignorance rather than malice. ”

    […]

    But in 2006, WildAid enlisted Chinese professional basketball player Yao Ming, who played for the Houston Rockets, to front a public awareness campaign. One ad showed diners refusing the soup when confronted with the gory reality of sharks whose fins have been sliced off. The finless fish are often tossed back into the sea to die.

    If anyone is still wondering what the dish actually tastes like, watch this clip of Gordon Ramsay attempting to understand what’s so darn special about the bowl (NSFW, with one F-bomb):

    For those of you that don’t want to sit through the video, understand that the fin itself is a completely superfluous part of the actual dish. It’s a basic chicken and soy broth, flavored with pork and augmented with fresh coriander, bamboo shoots, and red wine vinegar. The fin has next to no taste after days of washing, rehydrating, and boiling. I’m sure the broth itself is fantastic (you can’t really go wrong with chicken stock, pork and soy sauce), but the fin is needless. It’s all for show. “The broth is delicious,” Ramsay concludes, “but it could have anything in there” instead of a shark fin.

    That “show” used to be relegated to the elite class in China. Now, with the growing middle class, more and more were acting the part of the high end culture and paying money for a soup that is more about status than taste, with a wildly destructive influence on both the sharks that are maimed and left to die for one part of their anatomy, and the overall food chain structure that the massive harvesting of shark fins is on its way to destroying.

    Or, was on its way to destroying. Thank in large part to a giant of a man in both stature, and commitment to the greater good.

    As huge fans of Yao’s, there is a downside of not being able to watch the retired Yao Ming play NBA basketball later this month. But after reading more and more about his off the court exploits, it’s hard to balance our selfish need to watch him toss in jump hooks, and the actual progress he’s making in his home country.

  12. #12
    Greetings,

    When it came to sea food life, I always thought that balance could be regained through the use of periodic moratoriums.

    mickey

  13. #13
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    We don't have to kill to survive. We should ban all "killing".
    http://johnswang.com

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  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by YouKnowWho View Post
    We don't have to kill to survive. We should ban all "killing".
    What are you talking about? Instead of killing the cow we will just cut one leg off at a time??

    I like shark fin soup. I have had it only a handful of times but it is pretty good. There are plenty of sharks in the ocean so nobody start the endangered list stuff.

  15. #15
    I was watching some documentary about Shark Fin so you know how that goes. It depends on which way they are biased towards. But they said that sharks are caught for their fins only and then the finless bodies are dumped into the ocean while still alive to die a slow death. Because shark meat gets tainted really fast due to them peeing through their body or something....therefore not very palatable.... and on a fishing boat, all caught fish are packed very closely together (due to space constraint) and the shark taints the other fishes.

    I'm all for eating any kind of animals including the plentiful dogs and cats. Just as long as we don't mess up ecosystems nor torture them for fun like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVXSJZr5L8Q

    Top Predators like sharks are important to the marine environment. Like right now they are needed to help curve the Lion Fish problem.
    Last edited by gunbeatskroty; 11-03-2013 at 08:49 AM.

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