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Brantford banning Sharksfin, Toronto next??!! [moved from Ontario]

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Charles Yu May 13, 2011 05:36 PM

Brantford, with its small population of 8 Chinese restaurants and 1 Chinese super-market is considering banning the sale and serving of sharksfin. Will Toronto be next??!!
First, 'radio active' Japanese abalone, then, bird's next products will cause cancer, now banning of sharksfin due to humane reason, soon 'high-end' Chinese dining will be a thing of the past!

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  1. The Chowhound Team May 14, 2011 12:34 PM

    As with most discussions about shark fin, this one is getting personal and unpleasant, so we're going to lock it now.

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      bulavinaka May 14, 2011 08:16 AM

      This subject has been hashed over and fought to the teeth many times over in my experience - I've often been part of many a fracas. For those (like me) who have seen with their own eyes not only the majesty of these creatures but the critical niches that they fill in the oceans' environments, we know that their precipitous decline over the past two decades is unsustainable and the long-lasting if not permanent effects will dig much deeper into the average eater's lifestyle - particularly those who appreciate seafood and beyond.

      The reproductive rates of the average target species are incredibly low due to the age they need to reach before sexual maturity, their relatively slow reproductive cycle, and the low number of offspring that their reproductive cycle produces.

      My wife is Chinese and she totally gets it. To the initial disdain of her parents, we explained that we would serve just about everything else at the wedding banquet in Kuala Lumpur in 1997 but shark fin. As we explained the many reasons why, from those that I mention above to the harvesting methods and the scale of harvesting and moreover the scale of which the demand was growing that was creating this massive disregard, they were able to accept our decision. No comments were heard about this missing at the banquet - didn't really care if anyone boo-hooed anyway. Moreover, I think we made up for it with the massive amounts of XO cognacs we fortified each table with. I think this was appreciated even more since the government duty on alcohol in Malaysia is so prohibitive that most couldn't imagine soaking themselves so liberally in the stuff.

      I know this can be a multi-faceted issue with the Chinese culture. I know texture is one of the important facets of its many cuisines. I know shark fin is virtually tasteless save some seafoodness and umami - like tofu, it takes up other flavors well. I know that pride, saving face, whatever one wants to call it, is extremely important in the Chinese culture. The average person in this culture is willing to go through great pains to preserve their reputation. I know that certain celebrations call for something extravagant like shark fin. I know it can be status symbol similar to how many Chinese will order up premium bottles from Bourdeaux or an '85 Opus One. Splaying out the cash for the sake of showmanship or just exerting one's pocketbook because one has one now is part and parcel to these hyper-caffeinated fire-breathing economies. I get all of that. Personally I view a lot of the flaunting that is perpetuating much of the demand as adolescent, but that's just my perspective.

      NPR recently aired an article on the issue in California that poster Kagemusha mentioned. It's a short but great piece as it includes the Chinese culinary and cultural perspective. I'd suggest listening to it:

      http://www.npr.org/2011/04/22/1356246...

      16 Replies
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      1. re: bulavinaka
        skylineR33 May 14, 2011 08:50 AM

        Disagree on your perspective. No, you don't get all of that. Shark fin is not just its texture. It has a unique fishy smell which cannot be found in other ingradient. Probably the one you tried (or if you have ever tried) is not real or you don't know the taste of it. It is fine that you don't get the point of eating it or see it whatever the way you see it, but there are lots of people who actually love eating it and it is certainly not adolescent as how you see it. BTW, I also eat blue fin tuna and foie gras.

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        1. re: skylineR33
          Kagemusha May 14, 2011 09:01 AM

          You're missing the point, skylineR33. Shark populations are collapsing under pressure from increased fishing as demand and prices soar. You seem convinced supply is bottomless despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

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          1. re: Kagemusha
            skylineR33 May 14, 2011 09:03 AM

            Don't know what you are talking about, I never say supply is bottomless. In fact, I well aware of it.

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            1. re: skylineR33
              Kagemusha May 14, 2011 09:44 AM

              So why continue arguing that banning shark fishing amounts to some kind of cultural insult? I'd book a standing reservation now to get that last bowl of soup made from the last shark fin.

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              1. re: Kagemusha
                skylineR33 May 14, 2011 10:07 AM

                Again, don't know what you are talking about, I and a lots of people just love eating shark fin, what's problem with you, cultual insult, where do you see I say that ? I for sure hope it will never banned and I see this will never happen especially in China and HK,

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                1. re: skylineR33
                  Kagemusha May 14, 2011 10:50 AM

                  Can't stop you from being selfish and irresponsible but it's troubling that you so don't get it. Shark's fins don't grow on trees. Thanks, though, for making my point again.

                  You really need to understand the concept of "peak fish" to see how offside your position is:

                  http://www.pastpeak.com/archives/2006...

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                  1. re: Kagemusha
                    skylineR33 May 14, 2011 11:30 AM

                    Oh spare me, just stop your lesson please. Talk about selfish,I don't stop people eating what they like. If you think it is wrong, don' eat it yourself then, no one force you to eat it. I don't promote shark fin but at the same time, don't think it is wrong if people do not think like you. It is not committing a crime or something.

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          2. re: skylineR33
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            bulavinaka May 14, 2011 09:14 AM

            >>Shark fin is not just its texture. It has a unique fishy smell which cannot be found in other ingradient.<< This is your perspective.

            >>I know shark fin is virtually tasteless save some seafoodness and umami.<< This is my perspective. How different are they on taste? You decide. It helps to actually read or maybe understand what I've written before jumping all over my $#!*.

            >>...and it is certainly not adolescent as how you see it.<<

            How you see it is exactly your perspective as is how I see it. And when the-said folks who order shark fin while also ordering these Bordeauxs or Opus Ones and actually drink them as they were intended and stop mixing coke or 7-Up with them, then I will believe you.

            >>BTW, I also eat blue fin tuna and foie gras.<<

            While I don't eat Blue Fin anymore, I also eat foie gras. Blue Fin is collapsing as well, but geese are still plentiful and don't add to the issue at hand. And the flavor of your statement does as well - it adds to my perspective on how adolescent some can be. Sticks and stones, my friend. :)

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            1. re: bulavinaka
              skylineR33 May 14, 2011 09:28 AM

              I know tons of people who loves shark fin just drink Bordeaux or Opus Ones without mixing coke or anything. I am referring to other issues that some people may have and have already pointed out in this thread when I talk about foie gras, and yes, it adds to my perpective on how adolescent some can be.

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              1. re: skylineR33
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                bulavinaka May 14, 2011 09:47 AM

                >>I am referring to other issues that some people may have and have already pointed out in this thread when I talk about foie gras...<<

                Mindreading has never been a personal strength. You've included this in response to my post. Given the context and tone of your response in taking everything I said as a personal assault, I've obviously struck a nerve. Don't take my perspective seriously if it doesn't apply to you. It sounds like you have a serious problem for other's opinions if they don't offer a similar perspective. I don't know if you are aware of what poster Kagemusha points out, but if you aren't attuned to how severe this issue is, it's time to tune in. And if you are and disregard this as not ultimately affecting you, then I am wasting my time.

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                1. re: bulavinaka
                  skylineR33 May 14, 2011 10:04 AM

                  bulavinaka, usually I include the name of the poster as the first word in my post if I specifically replying to that poster. Yeah, if it is banned, it for sure affect me.

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            2. re: skylineR33
              sunshine842 May 14, 2011 10:46 AM

              what you seem to not be processing is the fact if the fishing is managed -- which right now means shutting down some aspects of the market -- there's a chance that through aquaculture or some other form of managed fishery, shark fin soup will continue.

              If, however, it is not addressed quickly, there won't be any more soup because there won't be any more sharks. Ever. It's not like you just head over to the Existential Market and pick up a couple of spare species.

              And if there are no sharks, it's entirely possible that the entire ecology of the ocean...and eventually the planet ...will be irrevocably changed.

              Same with bluefin tuna.

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              1. re: sunshine842
                skylineR33 May 14, 2011 10:57 AM

                Sure, just don't want it banned as there are lots of people love eating it.

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            3. re: bulavinaka
              sunshine842 May 14, 2011 08:54 AM

              bravo, bulvinaka.

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              1. re: bulavinaka
                aser May 14, 2011 12:20 PM

                There is an overall tone of "lack of class" for the Chinese you speak of. Ones with so much money they're blowing it on shark's fin and 82 bordeaux, but lacking the sophistication to enjoy it.

                You're not down just because you have a Chinese wife.

                I for the record haven't eaten shark's fin in a while and plan to avoid it in the future. That has nothing to do with your talking down of the "Chinese" though.

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                1. re: aser
                  Kagemusha May 14, 2011 12:40 PM

                  Still, there's this "manifest destiny" thing about Chinese consumers' "right" to hoover the seas clean of sharks if they can still afford the skyrocketing prices that will result from collapsing stocks and high demand.

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              2. haggisdragon May 14, 2011 06:05 AM

                I think 'high-end' Chinese cuisine is strong enough that can it survive without one ingredient. Wouldn't it be wonderful if diners chose to stop eating sharksfin unless a new way of harvesting it could be found. However unlikely that may be.

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                1. Kagemusha May 14, 2011 04:51 AM

                  With respect, Charles, it's just not sustainable or smart to consume an item like shark's fin in light of the ecological damage--whatever the impact on "high end" Chinese cuisine. Too many other things on offer that cause less havoc than slicing the fins off sharks. California got it right and hopefully the bill will become law.

                  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05...

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                  1. skylineR33 May 13, 2011 05:46 PM

                    Toronto bans sharkfin ?! Does not look like it. Too high in demand. Brandford has no demand. Golden Court has the shark fin special weeks (last month) for $10 a tael for a pretty good quality shark fin. Had 3 tael per person a couple of times. It was full house every night !

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                    1. re: skylineR33
                      Charles Yu May 13, 2011 07:12 PM

                      I found out from Fourseasons. Apparently 3 chowhounders from my annual HK chowmeet group have stopped eating sharksfin!! Real surprise coming from foodies!!

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                      1. re: Charles Yu
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                        terrycar May 13, 2011 10:11 PM

                        Why a surprise. Maybe they're concerned about the diminishing shark populations more than their own gratification.

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                        1. re: terrycar
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                          celfie May 14, 2011 12:29 PM

                          not to mention finning sharks and returning them to sea is inexcusably cruel

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