Chinese Delicacy – Shark Fin Soup

Usually served on special occasions, shark fin soup can cost up to $100 a bowl. Once desired by Chinese Emperors for its rareness, it is served to signify good fortune. The killing of sharks for their fins have brought protests from animal rights activists and environmentalists.

The soup is a broth with noodle like shark fin strips added for texture. It has minimal nutritional value. It can cause sterility in men when consumed in large quantities due to it high mercury content. It is not recommended for pregnant women and young children.

Annually close to 73 million sharks are killed for their fins. The U. S., Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom are the largest shark killers. This practice is causing some species to be endangered. The preferred species for the soup are Tiger, Mako, Sawfish, Sandbar, Bull, Hammerhead, Blacktip, Porbeagle, Blue and Thresher.

A shark does not reach sexual maturity until 12 to 15 years and has few pups. Most sharks that are caught have not reach sexual maturity. This is causing the decrease in population.

The reduction in the shark population has resulted in their prey to increase. Humboldt squid are stealing salmon from fishermen and cow nosed rays are impacting bay scallop fishing.

Although the fin is valuable, shark meat is not and is usually discarded into the sea. The shark, which is still alive and cannot swim, sinks to the bottom and dies. The U.S, Australia and the European Union has passed laws to control shark fishing. Recently, Hawaii has banned the sale, trade and possession of shark fins.

Hong Kong imports about 50% of the world’s shark fins. It is estimated that the market will grow 5% yearly mainly due an increase in demand in China. Some restaurants in that area are now offering a shark fin free soup made from the mung bean. Without control of killing its top predator, the oceanic ecosystem will be impacted.


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