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Thread: Banning Shark Fin Soup

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    when the buying stops, the killing can, too

    Toxic delicacy of shark fin causes ecosystem chaos, and consumers are pushing back
    By Marian Liu, CNN

    Updated 9:55 PM ET, Mon February 4, 2019

    Photos: Shark fin in Hong Kong
    The bigger the fin and the thicker the veining, the more expensive it is, merchants said.

    Hong Kong (CNN)Adeline Chan's nose crinkled at the market's pungent, briny smell.
    Chan and her mother were once regulars at Hong Kong's Dried Seafood Market, in Sheung Wan, where endless stalls display plastic bins stuffed with various forms of dried shark fin.
    "We don't need shark fins for ourselves, but sharks need their fins," said Chan, now a vegan. "I stopped consuming shark fin soup four years ago after learning what sharks had to go through before a bowl of shark fin soup is served."

    Adeline Chan used to eat shark fin.

    But fins continue to be popular at these stores, along with other delicacies such as sea cucumbers, scallops and abalone.
    According to Hong Kong's tourism board, this seafood market has been around for at least 50 years, but the dried seafood trade can be traced to the 1860s, said Sidney Cheung, director of the Centre for Cultural Heritage Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
    Shark fin has long been a status symbol at Chinese dinners, particularly for wedding banquets.
    As much as half of the global supply has been found to pass through Hong Kong, the second-highest consumer of seafood in Asia at 71.8 kilograms (158 pounds) per person per year. This is more than three times the global average, according of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
    And on Chinese New Year, many family dinners will include shark fin. Last year, the Hong Kong Shark Foundation found that over 80% of 291 Chinese New Year menus in Hong Kong included these dishes.

    A culture of fins

    For many Chinese families, culture dictates the consumption of shark fin.
    "There was an old saying in Hong Kong in the 1970s: 'To stir shark fin with rice.' It was used to describe the lifestyle of the wealthy, implying that they were rich enough to afford shark fin on a daily basis," said Tracy Tsang, manager of WWF-Hong Kong's Footprint program.
    "Today, the older generation still considers serving shark fin to their guests during banquets a sign of hospitality."
    Many people in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, Macau and Vietnam all consume shark fin -- primarily the Chinese population.
    "The concept of 'no fin, no feast' is still deeply rooted in many people's minds," said Bowie Wu Fung, an 86-year-old Hong Kong actor who now speaks for WildAid, appearing on billboards in Hong Kong against shark fin consumption.
    Fung hopes to reach the older generation, who constitute the bulk of the buyers at Hong Kong's Dried Seafood Market.

    The bigger the fin and the thicker the veining, the more expensive shark fin is, according to store owners.

    "Shark's fin is one of the 'four treasures' of Chinese dried seafood, along with fish maw, dried abalone and sea cucumber," said Daisann McLane, director of the gourmet food tour company Little Adventures in Hong Kong. "All four are expensive products that are valued for their rarity and also for their texture."
    The bigger the fin and the thicker the veining, the more expensive it is, store clerks at Hong Kong's Dried Seafood Market said.
    Prices can range from $90 Hong Kong dollars (about $12) for 600 grams (1.3 pounds) for small shredded pieces to $7,000 Hong Kong dollars (around $930) for 600 grams. According to a report released in 2016 by the conservation organization Traffic, shark fin prices can range from $99 to $591 per kilogram in Hong Kong.
    On the lower end, a shark fin set lunch can cost $80 Hong Kong dollars to 90 Hong Kong dollars ($11 to $12) at Chinese restaurants, while some upscale places charge up to $1,200 Hong Kong dollars ( $160) for a bowl of shark fin soup, Tsang said.

    'A shark trading hub'

    More than 1 million tons of shark are caught each year, according to a 2018 study in Marine Policy, which named Hong Kong as the "world's biggest shark trading hub" where shark fin imports have doubled since 1960.

    Over 18 thousand shark fins were estimated to be drying on a Hong Kong rooftop.

    Nearly 60% of the world's shark species are threatened, the highest proportion among all vertebrate groups, and the populations of some species, such as hammerhead and oceanic whitetip, have declined by more than 90% in recent years due to the shark fin soup trade, according to the study.
    DNA studies have further revealed that one-third of the shark species represented on the Hong Kong retail market may be threatened with extinction.
    "Sharks are in crisis," said Andy Cornish, leader of WWF's Global Shark and Ray Initiative. "The demand for shark fin in East and Southeast Asia and for shark meat in other parts of the world are the major drivers for the overfishing of sharks. This is, by far, the biggest cause of the shark population decline. Currently, 100% of shark fin sold in Hong Kong is from unsustainable and/or untraceable sources."

    Shark fin with skin, during the drying process, taken in Hong Kong, near Sheung Wan.

    Hong Kong customs seized at least 5 metric tons of illegal fins between 2014 and July 2018. From January to October 2018, there were six smuggling cases of endangered species of shark fins with seizure, involving a total of 236 kilograms (520 pounds) of dried shark fins, according to Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.
    But continued interest is putting the environment -- and humans -- at risk.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Continued from previous post

    Ecosystem chaos

    When a shark's fin is sliced off, the animal dies, said Yvonne Sadovy, lead author of the Marine Policy study and a professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Hong Kong.
    "It cannot move, feed or swim, so it just starves to death on the sea bottom. Maybe it is like cutting the wings off a flying plane: The plane will be destroyed," she said.
    Sharks need their fins for steering, balancing and, for some, breathing.

    A replacement for Shark Fin Soup from Four Seasons, Double Boiled Maitake Mushroom soup.

    "There are sharks that must continue swimming to be able to breathe, as they rely on the forward motion to keep water passing through their gill slits and get oxygen," said Stan Shea, marine program director for the Bloom Association Hong Kong, a nonprofit that works to preserve the marine environment.
    When their fins are cut off, "they are likely to die of suffocation, as they are no longer able to breathe by swimming forwards. (For others), they are unlikely to suffocate but die either by starvation or watching as other animals 'consume' them alive."
    In addition, as a predator at the top of the food chain, sharksa are critical to maintaining balance in the ecosystem, Shea said. Its loss could cause "behavioral change" and "chaos."
    For example, when numbers of sharks decrease, their prey will increase and overeat the next level on the food chain, which is why cownose rays wiped out the scallop population in North Carolina, Sadovy said.
    "Most sharks are important predators and therefore can play key roles in keeping ecosystems functioning. Depletion of sharks is expected to have negative effects on populations of prey species, many of which may be also be sharks, or rays," said Nick Dulvy, co-chairman of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Shark Specialist Group.

    'Why the heck would you eat it?'

    Eating shark meat could be harmful to humans, too.
    Studies have found that sharks accumulate marine toxins, as long-lived predators at the top of the food chain. The levels of these toxins, including mercury, lead and arsenic, exceed recommended dietary levels, according to articles in Marine Pollution Bulletin.
    Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety warned against the consumption of predatory fish species after finding a sample from a supermarket that contained a level of mercury eight times the permissible limit in 2017.

    Shark fin is easily accessible in Hong Kong at the Dried Food Market.

    "The main food safety concern for shark fin/meat and other large predatory fish is the accumulation of mercury, especially methylmercury," the center said in a statement.
    "Methylmercury is the most toxic form of mercury affecting the nervous system, particularly the developing brain. At high levels, mercury can affect fetal brain development, and affect vision, hearing, muscle coordination and memory in adults."
    In 2016, WildAid tested samples of raw shark fin samples from Hong Kong and Taiwan's dried seafood markets and found that all contained above the permissible amounts for arsenic and more than half exceeded levels for cadmium, a known carcinogen.
    "If something damages your brain, why ... would you eat it?" asked Deborah Mash, professor of neurology at the University of Miami. "There's also no good evidence for health benefits."
    A 2016 study by Mash found a cyanobacterial toxin in sharks fins linked to the neurodegenerative diseases Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often called ALS.
    Analyzing 55 sharks across 10 species from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, her team found that the majority contained the cyanobacterial toxin β-N-methylamino-l-alanine, together with another environmental toxin -- methylmercury -- which is known to accumulate in sharks.
    Traditional Chinese medicine may also have no need for shark fins.
    "To my knowledge, shark fin is never a part of Chinese medicine practice," said Professor Lixing Lao, director of the School of Chinese Medicine at the University of Hong Kong. "Chinese medicine community is nowadays very much aware of protection of endangered species to be used in the Chinese medicine practice."
    Besides, "shark fins have no taste on their own. It barely offers a crunchy texture when you bite into it," said executive chef Chan Yan Tak, the first Chinese chef to get three Michelin stars, at the Four Seasons in Hong Kong, which stopped serving shark fin in 2011. "The flavor comes from the soup: a superior stock that is boiled for eight hours with Yunnan ham, chicken and pork ribs."
    Increasingly, public attitudes toward shark fin are turning.

    Pushback from big voices

    According to parallel studies in 2009 and 2014, consumption of shark fin in the last year surveyed in Hong Kong went down from more than 70% to less than 45%.
    In contrast, the acceptability of excluding shark fin soup from weddings went up from around 78% to 92%, according to studies by the marine environment nonprofit Bloom Association of Hong Kong.

    Dried shark fin are easily accessibly in Hong Kong at the Dried Seafood Market.

    WildAid and WWF-Hong Kong estimate that more than 18,000 hotels, 44 international airlines and 17 of the 19 largest container shipping lines have stopped serving shark fin and banned it from cargo, affecting close to three-quarters of global shipments. The volume of shark fin imported into Hong Kong has also dropped by half, from 10,210 metric tons in 2007 to 4,979 metric tons in 2017, according to Hong Kong's Census and Statistics Department.
    "It was a big challenge initially, getting customers to accept our shark fin policy," said Andy Chan, senior director of food and beverage for Shangri-La Hotels & Restaurants, which took shark fin off its menus in 2010. "We accepted that it would mean a substantial cut for our banqueting business. We initiated the policy because it was the right thing to do. We recognized that as a species, sharks are threatened with extinction, and if this happens, it would put the health of our oceans and fisheries at risk."
    Joining Shangri-La in pledging to stop the sale of shark fin are Cathay Pacific, Four Seasons and, most recently, the popular Hong Kong restaurant chain Maxim's, by 2020. The Four Seasons and some others offer a vegan version of the soup.
    "As more hotels and restaurants join together in this pledge, we send a strong signal to our community and can together help to reshape dining concepts around sustainability," Tak said.
    WWF and WildAid are working to persuade more companies to make the pledge against shark fin. Recently, WildAid campaigner Alex Hofford talked to the Fulum Group, one of the largest Hong Kong chains with more than 80 restaurants, about reviewing its policies.
    Citing the nonprofit's motto, Hofford said, "when the buying stops, the killing can, too."
    I used to love shark fin soup but I stopped eating it after I met Peter Benchley working for ACAP under Jackie Chan (I wrote about that back in the World of Martial Arts issue NOV+DEC 98, back when I was still a freelancer).

    WildAid Tiger Claw Champion
    Banning Shark Fin Soup
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    worst choice

    Shark Fin is Always the “Worst Choice”
    July 15, 2019

    In honor of Shark Awareness Day, international conservation organization WildAid and Plan B Media PCL, one of Thailand’s leading outdoor media service providers, urge the public to stop serving and consuming shark fin. The advertisements, placed on Plan B’s media platforms in prominent locations around Bangkok, feature wedding couples dressed in controversial outfits suggesting that their fashion statement was not the “worst choice” they made but rather their decision to include shark fin on the menu.

    The campaign builds on WildAid’s “Celebrate with #NoSharkFin” initiative calling on the public to forgo shark fin at weddings and celebratory events. According to WildAid’s survey findings, 57% urban Thais have eaten shark fin and, even more alarmingly, 61% plan to consume it again in the future. Survey respondents said they consumed shark fin most often at weddings (72%), family meals at restaurants (61%) and business meetings (47%).

    The shark fin trade is depleting shark populations, putting many species at risk of extinction, while also causing environmental degradation and fisheries collapse. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year and fins from up to 73 million end up in shark fin soup. Thailand is home to an active domestic market for shark fins, with many consumers unaware of the cruel practice of “finning” behind each bowl of shark fin soup: a shark’s fins are often cut off at sea and the shark is thrown back into the water to suffer and die slowly.

    “We are proud to support WildAid in its fight to help protect sharks,” said Palin Lojanagosin, Chief Executive Officer, Plan B Media PCL. “Plan B media is deeply concerned by the depletion of shark populations worldwide and the widespread consumption of shark fin in Thailand. This partnership aligns with our organization’s values and together with the strength of our out-of-home media platforms and hard-hitting campaign messages from WildAid, we are confident that our efforts can have an impact in ending consumer consumption behaviors that threaten the health of our oceans.”

    Plan B Media PCL has consistently showcased its commitment to social responsibility by sharing their media platforms with non-profit organizations to deliver messages concerning societal and environmental issues. This partnership serves to help improve the ocean’s ecosystem by ending threats sharks face from consumption of their fins.

    “WildAid’s partnership with Plan B is instrumental in bringing this urgent crisis to light and helping to save sharks by promoting the message of #NoSharkFin,” said John Baker, Chief Program Officer at WildAid. “Thanks to their support, we can push for a newly accepted standard where sharks are permanently off the menu.”

    The creative concept for the “Worst Choice” advertisement series was developed pro bono for WildAid by BBDO Bangkok, Thailand’s leading creative and advertising agency. Apart from outdoor media, these advertisements will also be widely distributed on social media platforms and other online platforms.

    Shark Awareness Day is observed annually on July 14.

    About WildAid
    WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to end the illegal wildlife trade in our lifetimes. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $230 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.
    WildAid Tiger Claw Champion
    Banning Shark Fin Soup
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    1,400 Pounds

    I wonder how many sharks 1,400 lbs of fin equals...

    1,400 Pounds of Shark Fins Seized at Miami Port: Officials

    In this file photo, dried shark fins are displayed at a stand for sale at the beach of Hann, Dakar, on July 22, 2019. Wildlife inspectors seized 1,400 pounds of shark fins at a Miami port, officials said on Monday. Seyllou—AFP/Getty Images


    (MIAMI) — Wildlife inspectors seized 1,400 pounds (635 kilograms) of shark fins at a Miami port, officials said on Monday.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the shipment of dried fins arrived in 18 boxes and was believed to have originated in South America, and likely bound for Asia.

    Officials estimated the total commercial value to be between $700,000 and $1 million.

    Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year by smugglers who cut the fins from live animals, according to conservation groups. They are often turned into shark fin soup, considered a Chinese delicacy.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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