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How do you feel about shark fin soup?

By 16 February 2012 79

shark

A friend sent me a link to the Canberra Restaurants named as selling shark fin soup with this note:

Hokay, I don’t normally post these sorts of things, but shark fin soup is whack and this website provides a list of restaurants in Canberra (and all of Australia) that actually sell it. Sharks are amazing animals, critical to aquatic ecosystem functioning and, as a SCUBA diver, I need all the good shark karma I can get. Rather than just not eating at these restaurants, I recommend if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and tell them WHY you’re not eating there!

The restaurants are: Happys Chinese Restaurant (Civic), King Fook Restaurant (Florey), Noble Palace Chinese Restaurant (Phillip), Prince Palace Chinese Restaurant (Emu Bank), Ruby Chinese Restaurant (Dickson).

While I’m not a fan of killing sharks just for their fins I’m not convinced eating fins is ethically that different to eating any other part of a fish. What do you think?

[Photo by StormyDog CC BY 2.0]

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79 Responses to How do you feel about shark fin soup?
#1
EvanJames10:21 am, 16 Feb 12

The issue is how the fins are obtained. The sharks are caught, the fins are hacked off, and then the still living sharks are chucked overboard. Missing their various fins, they can stay upright or swim or steer, so they sink and die a slow death.

That’s the issue with shark fin.

Sharks are often caught as meat-fish, you eat it in fish and chipperies as “flake” or just “shark”. That’s different, the fish is caught and killed, and eaten.

#2
johnboy10:22 am, 16 Feb 12

EvanJames said :

The issue is how the fins are obtained. The sharks are caught, the fins are hacked off, and then the still living sharks are chucked overboard. Missing their various fins, they can stay upright or swim or steer, so they sink and die a slow death.

That’s the issue with shark fin.

Sharks are often caught as meat-fish, you eat it in fish and chipperies as “flake” or just “shark”. That’s different, the fish is caught and killed, and eaten.

So hypothetically there would be no problem eating shark fin soup if the rest of the shark was being used?

#3
Thumper10:30 am, 16 Feb 12

The issue is the cruelty involved in the capture.

Sharks are thrown back into the water minus their fins to die a slow and cruel death.

#4
Stevian10:35 am, 16 Feb 12

It tastes like chicken.

Use chicken

#5
neanderthalsis10:39 am, 16 Feb 12

johnboy said :

EvanJames said :

The issue is how the fins are obtained…

Sharks are often caught as meat-fish, you eat it in fish and chipperies as “flake” or just “shark”. That’s different, the fish is caught and killed, and eaten.

So hypothetically there would be no problem eating shark fin soup if the rest of the shark was being used?

I agree with E-J. If they hack the fins off and leave the shark to die, unable to breathe properly, swim and hunt, then yes, I do have an issue with it. If the whole shark is taken for food, provided that it is not endangered/protected, then I don’t really mind.

It’s like killing a cow just to make a pickled tongue sandwich.

#6
Grail10:40 am, 16 Feb 12

johnboy said :

So hypothetically there would be no problem eating shark fin soup if the rest of the shark was being used?

The problem with that line of reasoning is that it legitimizes shark fin soup, which then tends to encourage the capture of sharks for their fins (and subsequent dumping into the ocean sans-fins).

#7
JonahBologna10:42 am, 16 Feb 12

The catch rate of sharks for their fins are rapidly depleting oceans of one of their apex predators (they eat everything, nothing eats them). When an ecosystem has it’s apex predator removed another predator is promoted and able to take over the system.

In the eastern Pacific the new apex predator is the squid. They are proliferating and taking over the ecosystem. I like squid rings, but when I go diving or snorkelling I’d rather see a shark once in a while feeding on the sick and weak fish rather than enormous schools of squid capable of decimating entire fish populations.

Sharks have been a part of the ocean since the time of the dinosaurs. They probably won’t be eradicated by humans, but they are being seriously affected.

#8
Thumper10:48 am, 16 Feb 12

Grail said :

johnboy said :

So hypothetically there would be no problem eating shark fin soup if the rest of the shark was being used?

The problem with that line of reasoning is that it legitimizes shark fin soup, which then tends to encourage the capture of sharks for their fins (and subsequent dumping into the ocean sans-fins).

That’s true.

Ban shark fin soup and you take away the demand.

Okay, it may only be a few places in Canberra but it’s a start.

#9
EvanJames10:49 am, 16 Feb 12

EvanJames said :

Missing their various fins, they can stay upright or swim or steer, so they sink and die a slow death.

Argh. Typo. should read CAN’T stay upright, swim or steer.

To use the cow analogy, it’s like hacking the legs off a cow, and leaving it to bleed to death, immobile.

I’m actually a bit surprised shark fin hasn’t been banned, it’s pretty frightful.

#10
poetix10:51 am, 16 Feb 12

As I endlessly post here, I’m a vegetarian, but I’d rather eat foie gras than this stuff. At least the Frenchies aren’t totally depleting the oceans of their top predators, and throwing the whole ecosystem out of whack. The cruelty involved is much worse than anything we saw in the Indonesian abattoirs, as the animals die an even slower death. And if you are silly enough to think that protein needs to come from animals, that’s a hell of a lot of it being thrown back to, um, feed the fishes.

Shark fin soup should be banned; I actually assumed it was in Australia. Are the fins used in these places sourced from plucky Aussie sharks?

#11
phototext10:55 am, 16 Feb 12

“So hypothetically there would be no problem eating shark fin soup if the rest of the shark was being used?”

If you are going to kill an animal for food (I eat meat) then it does make more ethical sense to me to use the whole animal.

The problem with fishing for shark fin is that it doesn’t make economic sense for the fishing boats to keep the whole animal, there is only so much room on the boat and you fill the space available with what makes the most money. Catch shark, cut fin off, throw shark overboard. Repeat until space available full.

That can mean hundreds of sharks killed to feed x number of people. Whole shark used means a higher number of people fed.

There is also the cruelty factor that not killing the shark and dumping it to die in the water with fin cut off is a pretty horrible thing to do.

I love shark fin soup but have to draw the line somewhere and just don’t eat it these days, it’s just too cruel.

#12
colourful sydney rac11:01 am, 16 Feb 12

EvanJames said :

EvanJames said :

Missing their various fins, they can stay upright or swim or steer, so they sink and die a slow death.

Argh. Typo. should read CAN’T stay upright, swim or steer.

To use the cow analogy, it’s like hacking the legs off a cow, and leaving it to bleed to death, immobile.

I’m actually a bit surprised shark fin hasn’t been banned, it’s pretty frightful.

+1 It is an absolute disgrace. THis is the sort of issue that the Greens should be focussing on.

#13
dtc11:07 am, 16 Feb 12

Didnt you all watch that show on ABC a few nights ago showing the huge numbers of sharks now resident in Sydney Harbour?

Having eaten shark fin soup (part of the traditional Chinese New Years meal in HK), it tastes of little and feels like slimy noodles. I’m not really sure of the attraction – I think its meant to symbolise something like wealth or power. Anyway, never been tempted to eat it again irrespective of the environmental concerns.

The CT says ‘Happys’ has removed shark fin from its menu. Not sure what kind of shark fin would come within the usual Happys meal pricing – its usually a luxury food.

#14
pajs11:24 am, 16 Feb 12

Ban. A cruel, stupid and unneccessary thing. Sharks are too important to do this to, especially the pressured populations (which is a hell of a lot of them). You’d get a lot less take of sharks if the fin had no effective value.

#15
Disinformation11:30 am, 16 Feb 12

So the only way to deal with this issue is to ensure that no shark fin soup is ever offered.

You won’t be able to discern the difference between soup made of sharks that were harvested for their fins only and the ones that were entirely utilised with their fins being used for soup.

It’s back to Panda paw soup for me.

#16
Sleaz27411:45 am, 16 Feb 12

http://www.sharkwater.com/

One of the best documentaries, most likely ever. Watch it before you even bother to comment.

“Tank bangers” on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5HXyOgz2YA

A light hearted look through a scuba divers eyes but with the same message. Hope that link works

The shark fin provides no taste at all or nutritional value to the soup and it has to be flavoured with chicken broth or similar. If we did on land what we do to the creatures of the sea there would be mass bans, legal action, imprisonment, fines, closures, etc… Long lining, finning, trawling, whaling are disgusting examples of the tragedy of the commons. It is vastly ethically different, it is completely unsustainable, unsanctioned, contains no controls and is killing off entire wild populations of apex predators.

This kind of thing reminds me why I hate people, we are simply out of control naked apes with a god complex. http://www.earthlings.com

Try and justify it anyway you want. It’s an impossible position.

#17
youngentob11:58 am, 16 Feb 12

Interesting comments everybody! For me, this is not an issue of eating meat or being a vegetarian. I eat meat. The problem with shark finning is 1) cruelty, 2) the largely unregulated and unsustainable nature of this industry, 3) the ecological consequences of removing top-predators from ecosystems and 4) the very real hazards to our health from eating sharks or any other animal at the top of the food chain– you can read more about that here… http://www.sharksavers.org/en/education/sharks-are-in-trouble/381-sharkfinsoup.html

#18
Sleaz27412:05 pm, 16 Feb 12

dtc said :

Didnt you all watch that show on ABC a few nights ago showing the huge numbers of sharks now resident in Sydney Harbour?

Having eaten shark fin soup (part of the traditional Chinese New Years meal in HK), it tastes of little and feels like slimy noodles. I’m not really sure of the attraction – I think its meant to symbolise something like wealth or power. Anyway, never been tempted to eat it again irrespective of the environmental concerns.

You are an idiot, the reason there are “huge” numbers of shark in sydney harbour is because Australia has very strong protections on sharks and marine reserves. During the warmer months sharks follow the schooling fish into shallower water and end up closer to beaches, harbours, estuaries etc… It is also more likely that marine reserves are actually working and increases in numbers are from a frighteningly low base.

Just because there are 300 more sharks around Sydney does not replace the millions (literally) taken elsewhere (costa rica, galapagos, chile, indonesia, south east asia, indian ocean, philippines, pacific, atlantic, the world). All because the fish stocks in those countries are so low and the price of shark fin comparatively high that poor fisherman and illegal cartels can make big $$$ off the chinese market for what would historically have been a complete extravangant luxury for rich people to show off how rich they were.

#19
fromthecapital12:22 pm, 16 Feb 12

Disinformation said :

So the only way to deal with this issue is to ensure that no shark fin soup is ever offered.

You won’t be able to discern the difference between soup made of sharks that were harvested for their fins only and the ones that were entirely utilised with their fins being used for soup.

It’s back to Panda paw soup for me.

But we can discern between cage and free range eggs…

#20
Mysteryman12:32 pm, 16 Feb 12

neanderthalsis said :

johnboy said :

EvanJames said :

The issue is how the fins are obtained…

Sharks are often caught as meat-fish, you eat it in fish and chipperies as “flake” or just “shark”. That’s different, the fish is caught and killed, and eaten.

So hypothetically there would be no problem eating shark fin soup if the rest of the shark was being used?

I agree with E-J. If they hack the fins off and leave the shark to die, unable to breathe properly, swim and hunt, then yes, I do have an issue with it. If the whole shark is taken for food, provided that it is not endangered/protected, then I don’t really mind.

It’s like killing a cow just to make a pickled tongue sandwich.

I agree. But honestly, this issue doesn’t rank too highly on my list of concerns.

#21
jsm209012:38 pm, 16 Feb 12

Agree. The only way to curb the demand is to ban the dish. The ocean is exploited far too easily, because we can’t see the effects of our actions. Being of Chinese descent, I often come across dubious dishes like this at festivals and special occasions. They don’t interest me, because you can’t rule out the fact that the ingredients were obtained in a cruel fashion. The argument of tradition and culture is irrelevant and anachronistic; the Spanish will eventually live without their bullfighting, the Japanese without their whaling and the Chinese without shark fins.

#22
Gobbo1:10 pm, 16 Feb 12

Australians eat lots of shark. That is what the flake from the fish and chip shop is.

As long as we are eating the rest, then the fin should also be utilised. However, no slaughter for the fin alone should be undertaken.

#23
EvanJames1:25 pm, 16 Feb 12

jsm2090 said :

The argument of tradition and culture is irrelevant and anachronistic; the Spanish will eventually live without their bullfighting, the Japanese without their whaling and the Chinese without shark fins.

And the Aboriginals without their turtles roasted alive in their shells.

#24
HenryBG1:33 pm, 16 Feb 12

Cool, thanks for that, I intend to get me some Shark Fin Soup ASAP.

I really miss shark fin dumplings which are no longer served at Yum Cha as they were my favourite.

Not so long ago, they managed to make Tuna dolphin-friendly, so hopfully rather than this authoritarian approach by little people trying to feel big of banning stuff, the people who care about sharks so much can figure out a way to ensure the whole shark is used instead of just the fins?

#25
HenryBG1:34 pm, 16 Feb 12

jsm2090 said :

Agree. The only way to curb the demand is to ban the dish.

You curb your own demand, and I’ll take care of mine. Busybody.

#26
neanderthalsis1:35 pm, 16 Feb 12

poetix said :

As I endlessly post here, I’m a vegetarian, but I’d rather eat foie gras than this stuff. At least the Frenchies aren’t totally depleting the oceans of their top predators, and throwing the whole ecosystem out of whack.

I’ve know a few geese that fit into the top predator category, including one that made a very large mastiff/ridge-back cross pigging dog make a very hasty retreat.

#27
qbngeek1:45 pm, 16 Feb 12

Mysteryman said :

I agree. But honestly, this issue doesn’t rank too highly on my list of concerns.

And that is the issue. Too many people think exactly like you and nothing ever changes. It takes about 5 minutes to write a letter and send it to all your local members of the assembly and federal parliament. Are you really that busy?

Its the same a people who go ‘I don’t care where the food comes from as long as I can get it at Colesworths’ Spend a cuple of hours each weekend going to the farmers markets, find sources of local products and decrese your footprint on the world. When you have seen how much better the food is, you will see why it is right.

#28
MERC6001:49 pm, 16 Feb 12

sm2090 said :

” Agree. The only way to curb the demand is to ban the dish.”

Hell I eat a lot of those chicken ‘buffalo wing’ things. So they hack off the wings then let the thing go free ?.

#29
jsm20902:15 pm, 16 Feb 12

HenryBG said :

Cool, thanks for that, I intend to get me some Shark Fin Soup ASAP.

I really miss shark fin dumplings which are no longer served at Yum Cha as they were my favourite.

Not so long ago, they managed to make Tuna dolphin-friendly, so hopfully rather than this authoritarian approach by little people trying to feel big of banning stuff, the people who care about sharks so much can figure out a way to ensure the whole shark is used instead of just the fins?

They still serve shark fin dumplings! They take their name from their appearance; The inside is usually pork or prawn mince. Tuna production is a whole different kettle of fish, with it’s own serious problems…….

Oh and +1 to what qbngeek said. The produce from the farmers markets is cheaper, tastes better, lasts longer, and has travelled fewer kms. Well worth the inconvenience of going out there IMHO.

#30
dtc2:37 pm, 16 Feb 12

Sleaz274 said :

You are an idiot.

And you need to learn that sometimes statements are not intended to be taken seriously. You think I dont realise there is a slight difference between the number of sharks in Sydney harbour and, well, what is happening in the entire rest of the world?

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