Shark fin soup is apparently a delicacy, served at weddings and for important guests…
But how can such a painful, cruel and unsustainable practice be associated with a fancy meal and happy times?
White shark, Credits: Wikicommons, Terry Goss
Most shark fin soup is produced from shark fins obtained through a practice called finning.
Finning consist of cutting the shark fins then dumping the rest of the shark’s body in the sea – because there is no money to be made with it. The shark is not dead yet but it can’t swim, so it slowly sinks to the bottom of the ocean and gets eaten alive…
Killing shark just for their fins means 95 to 98% of the shark is just wasted. So the animal was killed mostly to get thrown away.
Shark fins shop in Hong Kong, Credits: Wikicommons, greggman
Finning is also unethical for humans, as it destroys subsidence, sustainable and recreational fisheries by being unsustainable – meaning, when all sharks are extinct, no one will be able to fish them at all… Even the indigenous people that need sharks as a source of protein to survive.
To produce shark fins, about 100 millions of sharks are killed each year. Sharks are taken no matter their species - endangered sharks included.
Shark experts estimate that most shark species are threatened by finning.
Some shark populations have already decreased by up to 90 percent in 15 years due to the shark fin trade.
Sharks are long lived and slow breeder: depending on the species, it takes 7 to 20 years before they reproduce. They are simply killed quicker than they can breed.
Sharks are often a top predator of the oceans, their collapse and eventually, their extinction, will change the entire balance of the food chain and the stability of marine ecosystems.
Shark fins are added to the soup as a symbol of status and to prove the host is well off.
But you know the stupidest part of it? Fins actually don’t taste anything! The taste of the shark fin soup comes from stock!
Shark Fin Soup: Not a delicacy, an expensive fraud!
Shark finning goes against the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's (or FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries that ask for minimal waste and discarts.
Shark finning is contrary to the recommendation of the United Nations FAO's International Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks to ban finning
Shark finning hinders the monitoring and sustainable use of sharks, as defined by the IUCN Sustainable Use Policy Statement.
Shark finning threatened species such as whale sharks, basking sharks, and great white sharks. These species are listed under the United Nations Convention on the Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).
Whale Shark in Australian water, Credits: Wikicommons, NeilsPhotography
As far as shark extinction risk, any product containing shark is obviously as bad as the soup! So avoid traditional medicine based on sharks, as well as the booming industry of shark cartilage pills sold as joint pain relief.
Shark fin dumplings, Credits: Wikicommons, missmeng
Here is a quick chart of commonly used products that can include sharks – and rays as well:
Capsules of Shark liver oil, Credits: Wikicommons, Citron / CC-BY-SA-3.0
Don’t buy shark fin soup, not even once, not even because you think “you need to try everything once in life!”
If everyone buys shark fin soup (or a shark souvenir, etc) even only once, that would be enough to kill all the sharks in the oceans…