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How do you feel about the proposed shark fin ban? (moved from Ontario board)

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Most everyone I have spoken to seem to see it in a positive light that a ban on shark fin is being proposed in Toronto. Being Asian, I've had shark fin on several occasions (usually weddings)...I believe many Asians connect shark fin with celebrating happy moments, so some are against banning shark fin.

I wanted to see what CH'er think about this.

  1. non-asian here, i have never had fin, but have had shark -didn't think it was great...but really i don't follow the news about it and so i'm kind of meh about the whole thing

    1 Reply
    1. re: ingloriouseater

      Eating shark meat and eating shark fin are totally unrelated pursuits. Might want to read up on it.

      The ban is an extremely good thing.

    2. Seems to be a point where conspicuous consumption intersects with environmental carnage. Kill demand, save the sharks. I see too much hypocrisy and self-justification from opponents of a ban to take them seriously. Since when did being stupid and irresponsible become cultural prerogatives?

      BTW, why bury a thread relevant to the Ontario/GTA crew over here???

      6 Replies
      1. re: Kagemusha

        has the consumption really increased to a point of endangerment or are there other (environmental as an example) that has led to this endangerment. it would seem to me that the base culture that has been practicing this hasn't really increase THAT much in the past 50 years. one doesn't justify the other but the whole picture needs to be viewed not just one corner of it.

        native americans lived off the bison/buffalo for many years but it was the slaughter by the new settlers that drove the animal to the brink of extinction. oddly it was the food industry that brought the animal back to thrive-albiet mostly as a food source

        1. re: ingloriouseater

          With respect, it's simple: more diners with more disposable income. Income elasticity of demand for luxuries like shark fin soup is high. I'm guessing you're not aware of what's been going on in the Chinese economy for the past 20+ years. Have a look at some basics here for a sense of what's driving the problem:

          http://www.starmass.com/china_review/...

          There's not much debate on what's pushing shark populations to the brink and its not "other" factors. Can't really explain this away in terms other than rampant demand.

          1. re: Kagemusha

            i guess the conspiracy theorist in me within the 24 news world worries that when one news report gains traction then they all follow suit and we think an epidemic exists where one really doesn't.

            1. re: ingloriouseater

              The boom in a middle income in China has skyrocketed demand way beyond reason. The growing middle class in China is one of the biggest news stories in the world, not a conspiracy.

              1. re: kukubura

                I've been in China for 2 weeks now, the economic growth and opulent consumption here is the scariest thing I've ever seen and way more than I had ever imagined.

        2. re: Kagemusha

          The topic is fairly relevant here in California, as there was a whole bunch of hubbub leading up to the recently signed bill banning the sale, production and possession of shark fin last week.

          It split the Asian delegations in the various legislative bodies here, with some agreeing with the environmental goals and some likening it to cultural discrimination.

          Like another poster mentioned, I'm not sure how much effect this will really have - even if the whole North American continent bans the stuff, there seems to be plenty of demand still there outside this region.

        3. i just never entered into the consumption part of the equation so and somewhat oblivious to the 'endangered' aspect of it-so it never entered my radar. i am not going to beat a drum that i don't know about

          1. The ban is really directed towards the "finning" of sharks....cutting off the fins, then discarding the shark. While that has gotten all the publicity, there is still a legal shark fishery...primarily blacktip and mako in the US. Does this mean that the fins must go to waste? Shark populations are down, and they are slow breeding. Severe restrictions on all shark fishing would make sense...but it does not make sense to ban just a part of a shark.

            10 Replies
            1. re: EricMM

              EricMM,

              In California, the ban was much more than just the issue of finning. There were several admendments and proposals that would have curtailed finning or limited fishing for sharks without a complete and total ban on the sale of shark fins but all of them were rejected. And, I've listened to interviews from those involved with this shark fin ban, and it seems that they want to ban the sale of all shark meat in California next.

              The irony is that California passed this ban on all shark fins even though California actually has healthy populations of sharks with the notable and tragic exception of the great white shark.

              1. re: hobbess

                the California law bans shark fin trade, possession and sale in California beginning in 2013. How is that ironic? It isn't just banning fins from sharks caught off of California. The point was not to protect just California's sharks, (and being pelagic creatures, of course, they do travel from one part of the ocean to another), the point was to say that here in California we will not allow a practice that is harmful to the WORLD's oceans. It also was action taken in recognition that, after China, California was one of the world's larger consumers of shark fin. Most of those shark fins consumed in California were most definitely NOT caught in California waters.

                Yes, it is a small step if the practice continues elsewhere (though not as small as I think your post implies given the levels of consumption in Caifornia), but it is an important one, IMO. There has been a strong body of science that has shown that destroying predator populations will strongly harm other species further down the food chain.

                Not sure I understand the point of your first sentence but I hope you aren't dismissing the law merely because amendments were proposed and then rejected. The discussion should be based on what is in the law as passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor. Various special interest groups will always try to tack on additional issues to any bill that is presented and is likely to get attention (as this one always did). However, the important measure of the bill's validity is in the final product.

                I was a strong supporter of the bill, and I am not interested in a ban on all shark meat, it is the indiscriminate finning practice I object to as well as the impact on those species that are threatened or endangered . However, I will say that I've only eaten shark meat a few times and found it distinctly unappealing and not very tasty. I sincerely doubt it would be a product in huge demand were it not for the fins. There are many other species of fish much more worth the bother, from a taste perspective.

                1. re: susancinsf

                  the estimate is that 85% of shark fin consumption in the United States occurs in California.

                  1. re: susancinsf

                    Susaninsf,

                    Perhaps, I was being unclear, but my point was that the California legislation banning shark fins wasn't just about trying to control finning because you could have curtailed finning without a total ban on shark fins. There were proposals and amendments on the table that would have addressed the issue of finning without this complete ban on shark fins.

                    Among the proposals were:
                    Calfornia adopting the federal prohibition against finning and only allowing harvesting of non-endangered sharks.
                    A complete ban on foreign fins that didn't comply with federal laws against finning and a ban on the use of shark fins from endangered sharks.
                    Or, a total ban on the importation of foreign fins.
                    Ratcheting up the fines for illegal fins, $10,000 per fin and jail time to disincentize anybody from illegally harvesting sharks or selling fins from sharks illegally harvested.
                    And, then using the money collected from those fines for regulation and education about the role sharks play in the ocean's ecology.

                    These proposals were being made by people who acknowledged the problems of finning and that many sharks being endangered, but were also trying to avoid criminalizing shark fin soup if the fins could be harvested in a sustainable and humane manner.

                    If California blocked the importation of all foreign shark fins and allowed harvesting Calfornia sharks in a sustainable, humane manner where California had enough sharks to support that, then what's so wrong with that?

                    We're acting as if every shark species is endangered. But, worldwide, 20-33%, depending on your sources, are endangered. Why can't California ban finning and ban fins from endangered sharks without passing this complete and total ban regardless if the shark was not finned and is not endangered?

                    1. re: hobbess

                      I'm guessing because the expense, time, and hassle of identifying the actual species of every shark fin that they might question is simply too high to be able to sustain. Labeling? Of course the label will SAY it's from an approved species, but that doesn't mean it's so. So what's left? DNA testing of every single shark fin in the state, made more difficult by the drying process.

                      Far easier on the system as a whole to just ban it outright. While I understand the importance of the dish in tradition and ceremony, the reality is that nobody NEEDS to have shark-fin soup to survive....but we all NEED sharks to keep the ocean ecosystems functioning normally.

                      If the French can give up roasted songbirds for celebratory meals, the Chinese can give up sharkfin soup. (because taking a meal off a Frenchman's table is no small task...)

                      1. re: hobbess

                        because it isn't a realistic response to a very real and very serious problem, that is why.

                        That said, first of all, your last question doesn't quite make sense to me: there isn't a ban on shark meat you know, just on shark fins. Perhaps you meant, " regardless of whether the shark was finned just for its fin or not, and is not endangered"

                        Anyway, the answer is at least two fold: first of all, how the heck would they be able to determine whether the fin came from a shark where the rest of the fish was used, or not? In that regard, keep in mind the market for the rest of the shark meat, at least in California is very, very small compared to the market for the fin. Second: given those two circumstances, everything sunshine842 said. California simply does not have the resources to do DNA testing to tell whether the fin came from an endangered species or not, and how the fin was removed (the issue goes beyond whether the species is endangered; reducing large predators in large numbers can still harm the oceans, and the entire process is *extremely* wasteful and cruel regardless of species of the fish).

                        AB 376, the legislation as chaptered, defines shark fin as:

                        "Section 2021 is added to the Fish and Game Code, to read:
                        2021. (a) As used in this section "shark fin" means the raw,
                        dried, or otherwise processed detached fin, or the raw, dried, or
                        otherwise processed detached tail, of an elasmobranch."

                        In other words, it bans PROCESSED fin. How the heck would we know where that processed fin came from, without testing, as sunshine points out?

                        Now, if there is truly a market for the entire shark (which you appear to suggest there is, and which I dispute), we will soon start to see fresh whole shark (from nonendangered species, and hopefully line caught) for sale in California. What people would do with the shark once they brought it home (ie whether they cut off the fin and used it for a different purpose than the rest of the shark) would be none of my business, nor do I believe it would it be prohibited under the ban. Of course, interestingly enough, the legislation does note in its introductory language that shark is high in mercury. I am guessing that is another reason (apart from the fact that I don't consider it a particularly tasty fish) that it is not popular as a fish meat and is not likely to become popular.

                        1. re: susancinsf

                          Susaninsf,

                          That's why the porposals were even proposing banning the importation of foreign shark fins.

                          If you ban importation of shark fins and allowed harvesting of Calfornia sharks in sustainable and humane manner, then all the sharks would be from an approved species unless it came from the great white. And, if it came from a California shark, then it would have meant that sharks couldn't be harvested just for their fins. One of the proposals was to allow only California caught fins to be sold for soup from licensed commercial fishermen who harvested the entire shark for its meat, skin and oils

                          And, the heavy fines that were being proposed would not only disincentivize people from illegally harvesting or selling illegal fins, it would also help generate the funds to pay for that testing.

                          If the issue is the concern that people would try to sneak in illegally harvested foreign fins and mix them with the legal California fins, then that is a fair concern and why I support DNA testing for shark fins just like I support DNA testing for all the seafood being sold in the United States.

                          DNA testing is an additonal expense but its relatively cheap and much more effectvie than past methods, as well as getting cheaper every year. (If the lab already owns the equipement, then it costs the lab less than an dollar to test each sample.)

                          Far too often, consumers in America are buying fraudently mis-labeled seafood. Far example, the mako shark is often mislabeled and sold as swordfish; thresher sharks get sold as swordfish or mahi-mahi.

                          Its an open secret that mis-labeling is a common practice in the seafood industry where fishes are mis-labeled under another species name or mis-labeled origins, to sell a overfished fish as one whose numbers are sustainable or plentiful. If the MBA says that its okay to buy one particular fish from region X but not region Y, then that fish from region Y will be sold as coming from region X.

                          But, does that mean we should stop the sale of all those different types of seafood because they are often mis-labeled, where endangered and non-endangered seafood are mixed up and sold together. At the very least, we need to be doing more DNA testing to stop this.

                          With the high cost of shark fins, it has enough cushion to absorb DNA testing. If we started to do DNA testing for shark fins, then could have been an important precedent to start doing more DNA testing for other seafood.

                          If we weren't talking about shark fins, would you really be against more DNA testing of our seafood?

                          Shouldn't we be concerned about all the endangered seafood, and not just sharks?

                          1. re: hobbess

                            Personally, I am not AGAINST DNA testing for anything. My only statement was that I thought it wasn't a practical solution for California for shark fin, given the cost. It isn't the cost of the test that is a barrier, IMO, it is the cost of the administration of the test. I'd rather see a flat out ban on shark fin pass than a proposed ban get vetoed by the Governor because of the cost. And yes, I believe our current Governor would have vetoed AB 376 if it had included the cost of DNA testing. I am taking politics and the state's dismal economic status into account in my view in this instance.

                            Finally, one more time, as I've said multiple times, but yes, to answer one more time, yes, we should be concerned about endangered seafood, but as I have also said in various posts, the issues go beyond sustainability of species: just taking that many predators out of the ocean is harmful in and of itself. DNA testing and just allowing sharks that are not endangered would NOT solve the problem, IMO, and therefore IMO DNA testing is not the (only) path (or alternative) we should take when it comes to shark fin. Apparently you disagree. That's fine. However, I would strongly urge you to read the National Science Foundation report I linked elsewhere on this link before concluding that i am wrong. The oceans can't afford to have millions of sharks removed. period. Besides, what do you do when three or four or forty years later all of sudden scientists realize that, thanks to millions of fish being removed for fins each year, previously stable populations are now endangered? Put them on the list retroactively and go out to all those stores and restaurants and take the fins back? and then what?

                            As for your statement,

                            "That's why the porposals (SIC) were even proposing banning the importation of foreign shark fins.". ... I am afraid I don't understand this sentence. The ban in California *does* ban importation of foreign shark fins. It bans all processed shark fin (as defined in the statute) regardless of source, foreign or domestic.

                            Sorry, but to the extent I think I understand your point (and frankly, I am not sure I do understand it) we will just have to disagree. As near as I can make out, your point is that if we can't or won't do something about all of the endangered fish, we shouldn't do anything about any of them, or specifically, about sharks. Nothing could be further from my point of view. Because they are apex predators, and because they are taken in such large numbers, I care as much or more about the fate of sharks as any other species, and thus I do think that it makes sense to address the issues regarding shark finning even if we don't address it for other fish. In NO WAY does that mean I wouldn't like to see the issues addressed more generally.

                            You appear to disagree with my point of view that we have to start somewhere even if we can't solve every problem in one fell swoop or one ban in California or worldwide. so be it. I admire your idealism but am afraid that on these issues I tend to come down on the side of practicality; I also tend to believe that big movements can and often should start with small beginnings.

                            1. re: susancinsf

                              >>I also tend to believe that big movements can and often should start with small beginnings.<<

                              Yao Ming (former NBA great) has been a spokesman for WILDAID in promoting more awareness concerning the shark fin issue. I hope his voice can be the beginning of which greater things will eventually come.

                              http://www.wildaid.org/sharks

                              1. re: susancinsf

                                If anything, I believe in steps too and not trying to solve every problem in one big ban or fell swoop.

                                So that's why I would liked to see California try to find some common ground to keep shark fin soup legal while trying to stop finning and stop killing endangered sharks which I don't feel that the people behind this shark fin ban even tried to do.

                                It never seemed like those proposals and amendments were ever given a fair shot, where they were written off even before they were ever attempted. DNA testing is written off as too expensive, ignoring that the amendments had ratcheted up the fines to help pay for these costs.

                                And, if they didn't work, then come back with something as drastic like the California law.

                                Yes, I understand the California shark fin ban is total and absolute, banning both foreign and domestic shark fins.

                                But, I brought up that a proposed amendment that differed from the California's law where foreign fins were banned while allowing domestic fins because it addressed some of the concerns raised about whether or not the fins would come from endangered species and if the sharks would have been finned just to get those fins.

                                Finally, if your point is that we need to stop harvesting sharks, regardless if its finned or endangered, because its an apex predators then doesn't mean we should stop harvesting all apex predators?

                                Then, that means we should stop fishing for tuna, swordfish, etc... and not just sharks because they're all apex predators.

                                Not only should the bluefin tuna be banned, but all the tuna we currently eat should be banned.

                                And, by banning tuna and swordfish, you'd be saving a lot of sharks which are killed each each not because they were finned but because they were caught up as bycatch when fishermen fish for tuna and swordfish. Just in the Mediterraenan, 100,000 sharks are killed every year as bycatch by fishermen trying to harvest tuna and swordfish.

                  2. Part of the challenge right now is that the fishery depends on wild stocks, which aren't doing very well. It's a great business opportunity for anyone who can figure out how to run a profitable, large scale shark farm. It hasn't been done yet, and so you end up with a lot of overfishing and "not-so-accidental" shark bycatch.

                    Just imagine the sheer size of the environmental impact study, let alone the actual farm! Maybe that's coming later rather than sooner.

                    A ban might be the politically popular move, but with a natural resource like this, I think it's just a matter of time before the price goes high enough that A) it again excludes that burgeoning middle class, and B) shark farming becomes economically viable. Banning shark fin in Toronto might have some tiny impact given the the size and wealth of the market, but it's just a drop in the bucket relative to global demand. More symbolic than practical.

                    1. I'm not really knowledgeable on this but it seems to me that the pro-ban-ers issue is with the method of harvesting the fins. The fins are cut off then the still living shark is thrown back in the ocean to slowly die. It's kind of like the old seal hunt - the species isn't endangered it's just a nasty way to treat a living thing. So, if we ban shark fin do we ban other inhumanely harvested food items like foie gras? It's a slippery slope.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: crawfish

                        "It's a slippery slope."

                        That's a convenient dodge. Shark populations are shrinking as appetites and incomes rise in China. No comparison to the seal hunt, at least in Canada where there's a strict season set by weather and ice conditions and oversight on hunting range. Nothing remotely similar monitoring shark hunting.

                      2. I feel the same way about it as the rhino horn ban. Why endanger a species (or a whole lot of species) merely for the purpose of conspicuous consumption? Shark fins aren't sustenance, they're a luxury and we can live without eating them.

                        I can't see any comparison to foie gras. Domesticated geese aren't an endangered (or even natural) species.

                        1. I've had shark fin. It's one of those dishes that a host will spend money to show they're honoring the guest.

                          It's all for show based upon an archaic tradition and belief.

                          I have no issues with the ban, but I'm an ABC.

                          1. I'm asian and I'm all for the ban and also wish we could somehow get Japan to stop their "scientific" whaling.

                            I think it's ridiculous to fin a shark then throw it back into the water just so some person can serve this dish to "show off" to guests. Irrespective of the type of shark species, it is simply wasteful and shows an appalling lack of respect for our shrinking natural resources.

                            You have to be pretty shallow if you feel that your "celebratory, happy moments" will somehow be lessened because you didn't serve a particular dish.

                            I wonder what proponents for shark fin soup would think if advanced aliens suddenly landed on earth and decided that human heart soup was a delicious food delicacy that was the most appropriate dish for celebrating their alien festivals? And of course, it was best to harvest while the human was alive!

                            16 Replies
                            1. re: SeoulQueen

                              not even heart soup -- just an arm or a leg -- so that the human is left walking around as the victim of a surprise amputation.

                              just like shark fins.

                              I am all for maintaining one's culture...but not to the point of the elimination of an entire level of the food chain...the ocean is already in a precarious balance due to overfishing, and no ethnic group or culture has the right to destroy an entire part of the environment for the preservation of their culture.

                              We're all on this planet together, and at some point there has to be a balance between individual rights and the greater good.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                >>not even heart soup -- just an arm or a leg -- so that the human is left walking around as the victim of a surprise amputation.<<

                                I don't think it would be just AN arm or a leg - it'd be all four limbs - imagine life as suddenly having one's limbs lopped off and lying on the ground looking like home base. This general topic - the hastened decline of shark populations due to fin harvesting - has been a hot topic on these boards. I've always sided with pro-shark proponents, and have taken lots of heat for it. Some felt that Chowhound was not the appropriate venue for me to voice my argument on the subject, and that my energies would be better spent creating my own blogsite on the subject. I think those who felt this way were in denial or just plain - well...

                                Posters with a vested interest in shark fin - usually those who associate shark fin with celebratory events - either don't seem to care about the impact of their desires, are naive to the whole issue relative to the greater good, or want to dispute the impact by questioning "the numbers" behind the impetus for banning shark fin.

                                Those who are for banning usually are concerned with the inevitable collapse of shark populations (rate of harvesting > birth rates), while others feel finning to be cruel. Whether sharks are finned while their alive or after they've expired, neither is a happy ending for sharks in particular. I am sure sharks do suffer while having their fins cut off - they then eventually suffocate while languishing on the bottom of the ocean. But they die a similar death when caught in a net and are rendered immobile, thereby slowly suffocating just the same. What is of utmost importance to me is the former - the rapidly declining numbers of sharks and the ultimate impact on how this plays out in the ocean, which ultimately affects us all.

                                The argument that bills banning shark fin have racist undertones is a half-truth at best - I consider this argument to be fog. Because demand for shark fin is overexceedingly created by one culture does not make it racist. It is just a matter of circumstance that the numbers of consumers creating this demand has far exceeded the sustainability of the supply in a relatively short amount of time. When a huge portion of one-fifth of the world's population suddenly become viable consumers of a singular product that has a very slow replenishment rate, uncontrolled depletion of that product will inevitably lead to some sort of critical point - in this case, the collapse of shark populations. And when said-group does not take responsibility in self-regulating how it treats, conserves and consumes this specific resource, other parties who feel threatened by the effects of this unbridled consumption need to step in. This is not racist. This is self-preservationist instinct kicking in.

                                I am of Japanese ancestry and feel scientific whaling is a spoof, folly and overt lashing out by those in power in Japan as a matter of pride. Most folks in Japan that I know can't stand whale meat, and were somewhat force-fed it while in school. I don't think most others who are against whaling are anti-whaling because they are biggoted toward Japanese, Icelanders, Norwegians, Faroese or any others who practice it. Many feel touchy-feely about cetaceans, arguing that they are highly intelligent and sensitive creatures. As much as I agree about this, I don't think it's a relatively strong argument. I feel that when man decides to utilize a scarce resource for no better reason than his pride, for conspicuous consumption, for tradition, that would otherwise benefit the majority if left in its original state, the latter takes overbearing precedence over the former. To argue that this has racist undertones is weak - those voicing this opinion are in need to ask themselves if their practice, tradition or consumption is self-centered, disrespectful to the world at large, and ultimately if they are cutting off their nose to spite their face. I think it's better to leave one's nose intact by doing the same with the fins.

                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                  nicely stated

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    Beautifully put, bulavinaka.

                                    I'm not Asian. I'm horrified that the dim sum restaurant I go to ALWAYS has shark fin, and we're nowhere near the coast. We've never gotten it, and once I was with a large group of coworkers at the dim sum place, when she asked if we wanted shark fin, everybody was quick to say no, many people with barely-concealed horror in their voices. I was so proud of them all at that moment.

                                    Agree with you on the whaling, too. I remember once reading in The Economist about Japanese whaling, and the article began much like this (it's been 30 years so I can't quote exactly)- "The Japanese would rather face worldwide sanctions and the hatred of every other country on earth than lose face by agreeing to stop whaling." It's much the same with a lot of other luxury foods, wild caviar from the Caspian et al, shark fin, whale, there's a long list there. I used to enjoy shark steak frequently (a whole different issue, I know) but stopped when rumors of overfishing began to be reported. Same with Chilean sea bass, and I really, really love Chilean sea bass. I don't want to be responsible for being part of the decimation of any species (cockroaches are the exception), ESPECIALLY if it's done with an unnecessary amount of cruelty. Which is subjective, I know.

                                    1. re: EWSflash

                                      The cultural issue of "saving face" in many parts of Asia (as well as here and elsewhere) can't be underemphasized. Many would include the option of dying rather than lose face. Serving shark fin plays right into this. For a host NOT to serve shark fin to guests at a celebratory event is a big broad check mark in the "losing some serious face" column. Not serving shark fin implies the guests are not worthy, one is not wealthy enough to do so, one disregards tradition, etc., etc., etc. Whaling plays into the same issue of pride, but more on a collective front. Open criticism is severely frowned upon in Japanese culture - for a country to cast such an affront on Japan is considered a capital insult - push back with no restraint. Furthermore, to question what many Japanese consider to be a age-old cultural right and an issue of national sovereignty (falsely so considering their whaling takes them into Intl waters) puts this issue square in the middle of pride - such an ugly and wasteful human condition.

                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                        Actually there are younger generation of couples getting married in Hong Kong whose families (and the married couple themselves who are making the decision) throwing the wedding dinner banquets, are choosing to opt out of shark fin.

                                        Out of all the high end delicacies, there is always abalone, whole roasted crispy skin suckling pig, lobster, steamed fish. So that's not entirely true that if a host does not serve shark fin, he or she will lose faith....maybe that still holds in some parts of the community, in Hong Kong, but people are aware over there of the controveries of eating shark fin, and it is somewhat increasingly becoming untrendy to consume it.

                                        1. re: K K

                                          Yeah, forget sharks, let's focus on emptying the oceans of abalone and lobsters. One day the high-end wedding delicacies will be pilchards and chicken nuggets.

                                          1. re: DeppityDawg

                                            I personally dislike most Chinese banquets. You sit on your ass for so darn long, sit in a stuffy room with others, have to dress up, have to suffer through long winded speeches before you can eat, and the food comes out slowly and in quantity. By the 4th or 6th course, your stomach could be in pain from prolonged hunger and potential indigestion. The food might not even taste that good as the restaurant is typically not on its A-game, and if you are lucky, you won't pay for it on the throne. And then there's dessert and the wedding cake...

                                            So yes maybe binging on chicken nuggets and canned pilchards before going to a banquet (if attendance is mandatory to ahem...prevent losing face), is a good idea.

                                            But that's nothing compared to a wedding banquet in Taiwan, I once attended one, and there were a whooping 20 courses, including sashimi (one was lobster too). Crazy....did all sorts of things to my system.

                                            The best thing to do for married couples is to elope to Vegas and just do a chapel and buffet. That's another way of supporting the shark fin ban. And plus, there's a F-load of mercury in those fins anyways, regardless if the sharks came off the coast of Vietnam or Thailand.

                                          2. re: K K

                                            Good news from the front - thanks for the info. We had our traditional Chinese wedding in KL, Malaysia. We opted out of shark fin at our banquet and my FIL was not happy at all - he was dumbfounded - face, tradition, etc. We compensated with (I forget how many) suckling pigs, lobster, and gallons of good cognac. Everyone seemed happy enough, but I am sure there were murmurs about the missing shark fin - oh well...

                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                              I've attended a family wedding in Singapore, held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, where there were 650 guests. Sharksfin soup was served but, for those who were against consumption of sharksfin, Sichuanese hot-and-sour soup were substituted for them. Sometimes, the host does need to walk a tight-rope to please everyone.

                                  2. re: SeoulQueen

                                    What would be vastly more effective than a ban would be an education campaign to change people's attitudes towards shark's fin soup. Simply banning the sale of the fins will do nothing to reduce demand. On the contrary, it will make a highly lucrative black market. Once you factor in the costs of hiding your actions, fishermen, brokers, smugglers will be able to get more money than they already do. This happened when CITES banned the collection of certain orchid species- the increase in value resulted in some populations being wiped out. Same is happening with the ban on Beluga caviar- there is a thriving black market, and I don't believe that the beluga sturgeon is increasing in numbers. However, a strong re-education program may be far more successful by turning people against the idea- this will be easiest with the younger generations, but they in turn can influence the others. The best way to reduce or stop the finning of sharks is to reduce its demand.

                                    1. re: EricMM

                                      Very, very true on all accounts.

                                      Well said, although it invites the discussion of is there a desperate enough problem to justify a ban in the short term while we start the considerably longer, and considerably more difficult re-education process.

                                      1. re: EricMM

                                        +1 on the black market - it's the first thing that came to mind when I first caught wind of any of these bills being proposed. Banning a product that has an inelastic demand will only cause the market to go underground.

                                        My wife is Chinese, and was completely unaware of the impact of shark fin demand on the ocean environments, as well as finning. She now will not touch the stuff. Her father on the other hand won't change his attitude toward the subject - the impact and finning are non-issues to him. I can understand this as traditions can be hard-wired in many folks no matter what their culture. Shark fin is tied to very poignant moments - it's hard to break that chain.

                                        1. re: EricMM

                                          There's an outstanding Chinese restaurant here that has a shark fin dish on the menu. I spoke with the owners about it and told them that it might actually be driving away more customers than it brings in. They were totally unaware that there was even a controversy surrounding shark fins at all, so yeah education is necessary. They said they had one box of dried fins that they'd had for years, rarely ever sold any, and after our conversation wouldn't be ordering any more. Obviously less than a drop in the bucket of this problem, but something.

                                          1. re: kukubura

                                            and that's the key...will it fix the problem? Not on its own....but it's one more restaurant...who might have a conversation with another restaurant owner....and this post might prompt someone to say something to the owner of another restaurant with shark fin on the menu....

                                            We can't stop the world on its axis and make it go away...but we CAN collectively do what each of us CAN do...because to blithely say "oh it won't help" ensures that it won't.

                                            If we do like the old Breck commercial and we each tell two friends and they tell two friends, and so on and so on and so on...the word gets out pretty fast.

                                            1. re: kukubura

                                              Very interesting, kukubura. I'd not have considered that a factor if you hadn't brought it up.

                                        2. Like every other natural resource, it should be obtained humanely and closely monitored so that its existence is not threatened.

                                          I have had shark fin many times while in China and Hong Kong-always as the guest of a client.

                                          Good for CA for trying to do something. However, the main problem is the demand in Asia. Specifically China and Hong Kong. Not quite sure what a ban in CA does to solve that problem.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: AdamD

                                            At this point, any reduction in consumption is needed. As poster Susancinsf has pointed out, California is a huge market for shark fin. Sure, China (Hong Kong included) is the 8000-pound Jabba the Hutt in this issue, but it REALLY does have to start somewhere. As I've already mentioned above, I think more of a concern is how the ban will most likely create a black market.

                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                              I agree that creation of a black market is a concern with any ban of this type. However, in measuring the impact of the ban, to be valid the measurements of the impact also need to take into account not only the impact of a possible black market, but also the impact of the dialogue and public awareness that the ban creates. I am very hopeful that as people's awareness and understanding of the impact of reducing the population of sharks and other predators increases, that demand for the product will decline even if a black market does develop. In this case, even just the introduction of the legislation had a huge positive impact (and obviously I am delighted by the outcome as well!) because of the dialogue and attention to the issue it has created.

                                              For those interested in some of the science that drives part of the concern about decimating predator populations:

                                              http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp...

                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                I guess. But I do not believe the excessive finning and poaching is done to feed the CA market. Its done to feed the $150 a bowl market found in Asian banquet rooms. Progress is progress, but I do not think it will make a huge difference, if they do not sell them in CA, they will sell them somewhere else.

                                                It circles back to the overall dilemma of protecting the ocean stocks throughout the world. That is the problem that needs solving. I wish Steve Jobs and Bill Gates had dedicated some time to finding a technological solution to that problem. Heck we cant even stop piracy in a single stretch of water. How are we supposed to protect the vast oceans?

                                                1. re: AdamD

                                                  As bulavinaka said above, there are those with "an age-old cultural right", and crudely but simply they must die off before the sharks do. For younger enlightened generations, eco-sensitivity is imperative.

                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                    Perhaps, but there are plenty of 20-30 year old folks around the world eating caspian caviar, blue fin tuna, chilean sea bass, rare birds, shark fin soup etc......

                                                    I get the traditions, since my wife is Japanese and I travel to China often for business, but there has to be a point at which controls overpower tradition. Its been a difficult climb here in the US. Imagine trying to climb that mountain in Asia. Daunting task.

                                            2. To the extent that it raises some awareness of this issue, I'm supportive of efforts to limit consumption of Shark Fin. However there are many that see no problem with its consumption and can't be convinced otherwise. For these people, I think any regional only ban will have minor overall effect on demand given international travel and will likely increase underground consumption. Also, China has the population and enough demand to consume all that the oceans have to give up. Raising international awareness, increasing the level of disgust of its consumption and waiting for the diehards to die off is the long term solution. For myself, I have consumed and have enjoyed Shark Fin before, but no more going forward....one of the easier things in life to give up!

                                              1. About 40 years ago, I read a book whose author I forget, but one sentence resonated with me. It read (approximately) "The late 20th century will be governed by this one rule: What everybody doesn't want, nobody gets". I am amazed at the accuracy and prescience of that statement.

                                                A minority decides shark fins are bad, so no one can have them. One kid at a school has a peanut allergy, so no one can have peanuts. In a few Ontario school boards, they have even banned a peanut-free soy substitute on the grounds that it LOOKS like peanut butter, even after the manufacturer went so far as to provide stick-on labels for sandwich bags saying they were peanut free. Some idiots on Toronto city council decide they don't want kids drinking sugar-laden soda, so they force the contractor to stock vending machines at city parks and arenas with 50% non-soda drinks, apparently ignorant that a 12-oz bottle of orange juice has as much sugar as a can of Coke. They also decided that they didn't like plastic water bottles, so no one can buy bottled water either. Mike Bloomberg decides he doesn't think trans-fats are OK, so no one in NYC can have them. He tried to do the same thing with salt.

                                                "What everybody doesn't want, nobody gets." I call it neo-fascism, and I say the hell with it.

                                                11 Replies
                                                1. re: FrankD

                                                  >>A minority decides shark fins are bad, so no one can have them.<<

                                                  I wish it were that simple, and I wish it were the minority. Unfortunately, most will be affected if nothing is done to curtail this trend. A catch phrase from an author whose name is unrecalled might be fun and fanciful but it doesn't relate to this issue. And peanuts don't compare well with sharks.

                                                  1. re: FrankD

                                                    If there were not actual science attached to any of your examples, I'd agree with you...but the reality is that there are very real, scientifically proven reasons behind all of the things you mention.

                                                    destruction of the ocean food chain is a very real and very current problem. Who knows what will happen if we destroy all the maritime predators? Answers vary, but the consensus is that we really don't want to have to find out.

                                                    And peanut allergy is a very real issue with very real (and very permanent) effects.

                                                    Health-related issues (other than allergies) like trans-fats teeter on a grey line...because we all pay for the health issues caused by things like trans-fats....

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      Where's the science behind preferring a bottle of OJ with 42 grams of sugar over a can of Coke with 39 grams of sugar? Where's the science behind banning a peanut-free soy substitute?

                                                      I have a one-pound box of salt at home. I've had it for about 4 1/2 years, and it isn't even one-quarter gone. I understand that there's a lot of salt added to many (especially processed) foods, so I try not to add any except to pasta water. But on the rare occasion when I go out and decide to order french fries at a restaurant (maybe 3-4 times a year), WHOSE RIGHT IS IT TO TELL ME THAT I CAN'T PUT SALT ON THEM?!

                                                      Maybe you're comfortable surrendering your right to make your own decisions on what you can and cannot eat.. I'm not.

                                                      1. re: FrankD

                                                        your analogies don't ring true , but perhaps that is because I just got back from the grocery store where I saw at least ten different types/brands of peanut butter, peanut butter candies, peanut butter cookies, peanuts in the shell, chocolate bars with peanuts in them, peanut sauces in the 'Asian Foods' aisle, and on and on and on and on and on....and of course I don't even have room to list all the heavily salted foods I saw today on my shopping trip as well as at the various fast food restaurants I passed on my way to the store....

                                                        a restriction on peanuts in certain locales where highly allergic and vulnerable persons are present (ie kids) isn't going to interfere with your decision as to what to eat and not to eat any more than banning alcohol in public schools is going to interfere wtih your decision about whether to drink (unless of course you work at a school and can't wait until after hours for a shot). All it does is restrict where you can eat peanuts. No one has proposed banning sale or possession of peanuts for personal use, that I know of. Or of salt, of course.

                                                        it isn't analogous to overall restrictions on a practice that has been shown to be highly environmentally damaging. If you are unwilling to have any restrictions on what you eat whatsoever, no matter what the societal or environmental cost, and under no circumstances are willing to surrender that right, just on principle, than in that case clearly you put your own rights first no matter what the societal cost. That is indeed a shame IMO, and obviously then, you won't support a shark fin ban, but it has nothing to do with peanuts.

                                                        1. re: FrankD

                                                          You may be singing to the choir in a lot of respects, yet seem to be fighting against many on all respects. I'm a Libertarian by nature. We all should be able to make our own decisions and responsible for our own actions. You seem to be similar based on your writings. I don't feel anyone should tell me how much salt I can consume, yet I should know to make informed choices not only about salt intake, but sugar, fat, etc. If I decide to do something that might not be so good for me, I should be responsible for my actions. I think one of the key words for me here is, "informed." One should make decisions that are informed ones. You obviously know that sugar can insidiously hide in various seemingly innocent forms. You know salt in excessive amounts can be detrimental to one's health. One can never be informed enough on all issues but based on what we each know relative to our circumstances, we need to do as well as we can with what we know.

                                                          I think another key word in this issue is "responsible." One needs to be responsible for one's own actions. If my actions cause detriment to myself, it's on me, and I need to own up to my own decisions. In the case of shark fin, one's decision to consume such a product may or may not be fully informed - I don't know. What I do know is - when someone takes this action, and all of these individual data points are compiled, the cumulative effect is something on a grand scale too large for most to fathom - the number of sharks culled from various ecosystems and how this ultimately has a negative outcome on each of these ecosystems. And all of these data points are represented by individual's actions that they are not taking responsibility beyond buying and consuming this product - not for how they affect each of these individuals, but how they affect the environment as a whole, which is now affecting me as another individual who has no immediate authority to prevent this act. How then do I gain reparation or compensation for damages that I suffer via a degraded environment, or anyone else even more directly connected with this issue, i.e., islanders, fishermen, ecotour operators, etc.? My only legitimate recourse as an individual is to try in some way to reduce the demand or accessibility to this product. And that is where things can get ugly - what you refer to as the neo-fascists.

                                                          It would be much more pleasant if a taste for and the tradition of shark fin would just disappear, but based on the current status of shark populations, the reverse is happening. Again, what I view as an irresponsible act on a cumulative level is neither sustainable nor of benefit to you or me. I think if you look further into the dynamics of this issue, you might gain insight as to whether or not this is as benign of an individual choice as you seem to think it is. Be informed, be responsible.

                                                          We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter. ~Denis Diderot

                                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                                            "It would be much more pleasant if a taste for and the tradition of shark fin would just disappear, but based on the current status of shark populations, the reverse is happening. "

                                                            Given China's demographics and a younger population more attuned to global rather than traditional culture, opinion, and tastes, it's possible the appetite for shark fin soup could wane. On the other hand, if resistance to international censure bonds with Chinese neo-nationalism, then eating shark fin soup could be a patriotic statement.

                                                            1. re: Kagemusha

                                                              This general social trend overlaps well with whaling relative to Japan's societal evolution relative to subsequent generations. In my camp, what one hopes for is that although the quantity of shark fin consumed is on the increase due to increased buying power by the general population, tastes will change for the reasons that you mention. The neo-nationalist angle is very hard to overcome though, just as it has been in certain (and powerful) parts of Japanese society. Money talks, and (sadly) this issue is surrounded by money in so many ways.

                                                              1. re: Kagemusha

                                                                "On the other hand, if resistance to international censure bonds with Chinese neo-nationalism, then eating shark fin soup could be a patriotic statement."

                                                                ==============================================================

                                                                That's my main fear - from my various business trips to China (and interaction with Mainland Chinese professionals working in Singapore), I noticed that patriotism and nationalism were actually much stronger amongst the younger generation Chinese than I expected (despite their being Internet-savvy, more mobility/overseas travel and with greater exposure to other cultures/nationalities). And yes, they'd be the first to say that the West is demonizing China, Chinese culture, Chinese eating habits, etc.

                                                                Imagine, if the number of sharksfin consumers grow at 1% amongst Mainland Chinese each year, with a population of 1.3 billion, that will equate 13 million people: that's 3 times the population of Singapore!

                                                            2. re: FrankD

                                                              You're dead wrong on the shark issue (and many others.)

                                                          2. re: FrankD

                                                            People are stupid and need to be protected from themselves. There's a diabetes and obesity epidemic that your taxes will pay for. Public health is a big issue and allowing Coca-Cola Inc. to have the monopoly on beverage sales in educational institutions doesn't make any sort of sense.

                                                            Anyway, you're mixing health and public safety into a conservation issue. The ban on shark fins is to save an important part of the ecosystem

                                                            1. re: FrankD

                                                              You're OT here, FrankD. We're talking shark fins not whatever comes into your head about salt, sugar or the TDSB.

                                                            2. I'd be more in favor of it if it didn't go immediately underground and cause even more massive cruelty and extinction via the black market, but I don't know of another way to halt it or slow it down. Maybe the serving of shark fin could be a crime? Again, that would just take it underground.

                                                              I wish it would stop, but nobody's asking me...

                                                              1. I saw a film years ago showing the finning process, and that was enough for me. The volume of sharks that that one ship was processing was incredible. I hate to see waste, and to kill a shark for just the fins is ridiculous to me. That, and the cruelty of how it is done with the shark still alive, and left to drown. Some see sharks as trash fish, but I see them as a fantastic creature. If the sharks that were being finned were totally consumed I would think differently, but they are not. I have had shark that I caught (brown smoothhound), and it tasted good to me.

                                                                1. I am all for the ban of shark fin soup and finning of sharks. It is an unsustainable habit that is decimating the world's shark population. This is coming from a very happy carnivore. I'm also against the reckless fishing of blue-fin tuna and refuse to eat it in restaurants. I do my best to eat local, sustainably raised meat and fish. The explosive demand for fins is ridiculous. I don't think cultural traditions should be held above the survival of a species.

                                                                  1. My brother loves to go ocean fishing, and mentioned that years ago the average swordfish caught commercially weighed 240#, now they are around 90# due to demand from companies like Red Lobster. These are not farm animals , they are wild creatures that we cannot force to breed more than they do. California placed a ban on catching Great Whites due to the sea lion population going through the roof which affected fisheries. Nature has a way to keep itself in balance, and we can harvest to a certain extent, but we can take it too far with modern technology.

                                                                    Unfortunately, countries like China feel that they can plunder the oceans without recourse.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                                                      Unfortunately, at this point they're absolutely right- they can plunder the oceans without recourse.

                                                                    2. how many people who are pro shark fin ban themselves eat bluefin tuna, chilean seabass or some other species whose population has been strained by overeating?

                                                                      mind you, i don't really care for shark fin soup and could care less whether it is banned or not, i'm just intrigued by the outrage against this particular food item which is served in a pretty narrow subset of restaurants, while pretty much every single sushi restaurant in the US seems to serve chilean seabass and blue fin tuna. Why bother banning shark fin in Cali, when the vast percentage of consumption is in China? Why not ban a food item that is much more prevalent here, such that there'd be a much bigger impact on the actual species?

                                                                      I'm assuming it's because shark fin is a much less mainstream and thus easier target, versus something like blue fin / chilean sea bass which is eaten by a much larger popultion.

                                                                      16 Replies
                                                                      1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                        well, I for one don't eat bluefin tuna or chilean seabass.Moreover, an increasing number of individuals and restaurants are following the guidelines of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program (which means no shark fin, blue fin, OR chilean Sea Bass). Indeed, the MBA was a big supporter of the shark fin ban.

                                                                        Regardless, as to your question: First of all, do you have evidence for your statement that blue fin and csb are eaten by or in larger numbers in California? Not at all sure that your baseline assumption is true, though I don't know for certain.

                                                                        Secondly, regardless of numbers I suspect much of the reason for the difference is that finning is not only severely damaging to the environment, it is also HIGHLY wasteful and very cruel. The later two issues are as or more important to some proponents of the ban on finning as are the environmental impacts (not too me, but then I am particularly fond of our oceans as a diver. and like biggundoctor's brother the fisherperson, I have personally witnessed decline in populations over the years.) However, some folks also have strong feelings about the fact that only the fin is taken and then the shark is thrown back into the ocean to die (and one can certainly understand why they object to that aspect of the practice).

                                                                        Finally, I believe that in sheer numbers and in percentages the declines in the shark fin population have been larger than declines in bluefin or chilean sea bass (though bluefin is highly endagered, it is true, while I believe there is some evidence that csb may be reviving a bit). I suspect that the method of finning may play a role here also: if all you are using is one tiny, tiny piece of a big, big fish, and the rest of the fish gets thrown away, you are going to need relatively more fishes to meet demand...

                                                                        http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr...

                                                                        1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                          Everything susancinsf said... I too follow the MBA via their handy tri-fold "Seafood Watch" guide. No blue fin, no Patagonian Toothfish for me either. Shrimp consumption is way down in our family as well. Try California Spot Prawns and you'll pass up the standard farmed shrimp without even thinking about it.

                                                                          Blue fin is consumed in massive quantities in Japan. I don't have the comparative stats but I'm confident that in the typical Japanese seafood-intensive diet, the total is much higher than total consumption here in the US. Here's an article from Asia Times with the tonnage imported into Japan - reported to be the largest importer:

                                                                          http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/KI...

                                                                          The presumption that the issue of shark fin is somehow a conspiracy against China or that being that a primarily a single culture consumes this product, that it makes it an easier target, is already fog to me (as mentioned above). I'd be just as zealous about this issue if were toward any other group or number of groups. I feel the zeal for blue fin and Patagonian Toothfish - they are long-lived, slow in reproducing and are drawing huge premiums which make them target species and prone to poaching as well. We also don't fully understand the impact of their demise, but do we really want to go there as well? Eliminating large predators has a significant impact on their respective ecosystems. Here's NPR's interview with the author of a book on one of the sea creatures in question:

                                                                          http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

                                                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                            +1

                                                                          2. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                            And, if we were to follow the logic of the California banning shark fins, not only should we ban the sale of the Pacific bluefin tuna but we should ban the sale of every type and species of tuna because the dangers the Southern and Atlantic bluefin tuna are in regardless if that banned tuna is endangered or not. So, no more tuna in a can which doesn't matter to me because I find canned tuna disgusting anyways.

                                                                            And, as FattyDumplin has pointed out, this ban seems more symbolic in that it was a easier target/more convenienent than going after other enviornmental problems that would affect more people.

                                                                            Imagine the uproar here if the government ever tried to ban the sale of cow meat. Talk to a vegan, and they'll love to tell you about the enviornmental destruction that our appetite for red meat causes to the enviornment. And, that vegan will also helpfully point out that all that red meat isn't healthy for us anyways.

                                                                            If the problem with shark fins is that a rising middle class in China is allowing more Chinese people to indulge in shark fin soups, imagine if f the rest of the world ate like how America ate...

                                                                            1. re: hobbess

                                                                              >>Imagine the uproar here if the government ever tried to ban the sale of cow meat. Talk to a vegan, and they'll love to tell you about the enviornmental destruction that our appetite for red meat causes to the enviornment. And, that vegan will also helpfully point out that all that red meat isn't healthy for us anyways.<<

                                                                              This issue you raise is very valid. Consuming large amounts of red meat on a regular basis creates a beehive of issues leading up to as well as after consumption. Unfortunately, the last I checked, cow fins don't draw thousands of dollars a pound, the general standard of meat processing doesn't include grabbing live steer and chopping off its extremities and tossing it back into the pasture or feed lot, steer can reproduce more frequently with higher survival rates, and there are no shark farms (yet) that can replace the numbers culled in the wild. I'm not being a smart-ass - I'm merely pointing out that the issues you raise, while concerns as well, have totally different dynamics. And while vegans, vegetarians, environmentalists, etc., could argue that red meat is not a necessary foodstuff, I think the vast majority of the world can. It really boils down to the modern methods used in the industries as well as the amount of consumption in the developed world. And even if we were to suddenly scrape this whole issue from the land, this would not fix the issue at hand in the seas. Just as the rancher keeps his livestock in order, sharks play a similar role by keeping certain aspects of the biomass within its ecosystem in order. If one were to remove the rancher from his ranch, the dynamics of the ranch would definitely change. The health of the heard would decline, food would become scarce, sick cattle left unattended or not removed from the herd would lead to disaster, and the ranch herd would eventually collapse. A similar scenario goes for sharks within their role as an apex predator.

                                                                              >>If the problem with shark fins is that a rising middle class in China is allowing more Chinese people to indulge in shark fin soups, imagine if f the rest of the world ate like how America ate...<<

                                                                              This in many aspects is already going on in China. The enormous rise of the middle and upper classes has created huge strains on energy, food, consumer goods, etc. The govt is very concerned about this not only because of its scale, but because not being able to secure enough energy, food and other consumer wants and needs could lead to a very angry and hungry populous that could turn against the govt at various levels. The demand for animal protein in general has been on the rise with the rising incomes, and while it's not at the per capita levels of the Western world, what is of concern is the aggregate as well as the quality. Any food-related issue we have here in America are small in breadth and scope relative to food issues in China. Here's a short, very recent article on the numbers, changing habits and outlook on China's middle class:

                                                                              http://news.yahoo.com/chinas-middle-c...

                                                                              Taking this into context of what you mention as well as this thread, the issues don't point to us, but to China (and don't forget India) in the next 20 years.

                                                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                I agree, fasten your seat belt as chinese middle class consumption patterns change. This year, China was a net importer of corn for the first time, about 900,000 tons, where corn is principally used as animal food and meat demand there has increased. Add that to the ridiculous ethanol debacle that hasn't yet gone away and expect corn prices to remain high.

                                                                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                  Any food-related issue we have here in America are small in breadth and scope relative to food issues in China.

                                                                                  Taking this into context of what you mention as well as this thread, the issues don't point to us, but to China (and don't forget India) in the next 20 years.
                                                                                  ___

                                                                                  In other words, we lecture the rest of the world to do as we say and not as we do. Its fine when we enjoy a sybaritic lifestyle and it only becomes an issue when the rest of the world wants to enjoy the same living standards we enjoy in this country.

                                                                                  1. re: hobbess

                                                                                    Not at all -- the point was that there will be enormous food-supply issues arising with India and China (because they are the two largest and fastest-growing populations on Earth, along with one of the fastest-changing economic frameworks).

                                                                                    We have to balance ALL of our food issues -- because no country exists in and of itself, without affecting everyone else.

                                                                                    The point was that much attention will be paid to these two, due to sheer numbers.

                                                                                2. re: hobbess

                                                                                  "if we were to follow the logic of the California banning shark fins, not only should we ban the sale of the Pacific bluefin tuna but we should ban the sale of every type and species of tuna because the dangers the Southern and Atlantic bluefin tuna are in regardless if that banned tuna is endangered or not."

                                                                                  I disagree and I think you are misstating and possibly misunderstanding the reasons and logic behind the ban. First of all, the scientific studies suggest that decline in the numbers of large predators is very harmful regardless of whether any particular species of shark is endangered: you have to look at the overall impact of the taking of millions of sharks for shark fin soup per year, NOT just the impact on a particular species. (in March of 2010 the Ocean Group estimated that 73 million sharks are taken for their fins each each year; that estimate is up from an estimate of 38 million by the National Georgraphic Society just four years earlier, in 2006). Obviously, some are endangered species of shark, others aren't (at least not yet). We must consider the overall impact of removing that many top predators from the food chain. (the science, per the article I linked elsewhere in this thread, is clear that removing top predators is a major concern and very damaging to our oceans.)

                                                                                  Secondly, blue fin is sold FRESH, not in processed form. And trust me, no one is putting it into your regular chicken of the sea (much too valuable in its fresh form). Therefore, one wouldn't need to ban all canned tuna to effectively ban blue fin (or to discourage its consumption through education); it is easy enough to tell whether the tuna in the tuna markets is bluefin, yellow fin or some other species.

                                                                                  as to the sale of cows meat: well yes, it may be harmful to the environment and human health. But cows aren't predators! Apart from that, we are in essence growing the cows we then eat, not decimating a naturally existing population. That may indeed be environmentally harmful, but it isn't an analogous situation other than in the most general sense.

                                                                                  But as long as we are talking in generalities, I will say that it appears to me that your analogy to cows appears to be based in part on a feeling that if we can't fix all of the problems in the world in one fell swoop (since indeed, we might all be better off if sale of tuna and/or cow meat were banned, at least from a health and environmental standpoint, if not from a social, political or chow-ish one), that we shouldn't even try to address one problem. I see it as the "We can't even change the world so why even try" approach to politics. I can understand why some people might feel that way, but I can't and don't agree.

                                                                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                    I keep hearing that we need to take such drastic measures as banning all shark fins, endangered or not, because of the importance the shark plays in the ocean ecology as an apex predator.

                                                                                    But, isn't the bluefin tuna a apex predator as well?

                                                                                    If removing a apex predator is that important that we must take drastic measures, then why don't we not only ban bluefin tuna but ban the sale of all tuna as well?

                                                                                    I have to point that a lot of consumers do have difficulty in differentiating the different types of tuna even if they're sold fresh and not processed. (Bluefin tuna was sold as canned tuna in the past). In Lowenstein's DNA testing, he found that about half of the sushi places selling albacore tuna weren't even really selling tuna, but a completely different type of fish, esocolar. (Escolar is delicious but you have to be very careful to consume it in small, limited quantities). And, that about half of the places selling bluefin tuna weren't even labeling it bluefin tuna on their menu.

                                                                                    With canned tuna, the problem isn't about potential extinction of the skipjack tuna which have relatively healthy numbers but all the other sea animals that get killed by fishermen chasing the skipjack.

                                                                                    And, that. the vegan would argue is the problem with our love of red meat. The problem isn't that cows are an endangered species or decimiating an existing population, but the problem is all the other animals and biodiversity that are threatened with extinction when we raise cattle.

                                                                                    All the points bulavinkana raised about cows vs sharks - that cows produce more frequently, that we can raise them on farms, that they are cheap- are valid. But, the vegan would argue that those factors about cows are what contribute and exacerbate the ecological problems that red meat does to the enviornment.

                                                                                    Since meat is so cheap that so many people can eat it and since we can grow so many cows to support that demand, we now have about 1.5 billion cows on this planet. Clearly, the problem isn't that the cows will become extinct.

                                                                                    Instead, the problem is the pressure raising all those cows put on the enviornment. The UN's FAO concluded that "the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." A vegan would argue that in the US, cattle grazing has contributed to the demise of 26% of federal threatened and endangered species.

                                                                                    I'm not saying that if we can't fix all the problems in one fell swoop, then we shouldn't even bother addressing one problem.

                                                                                    Instead, I'm pointing out that before we lecture others about what they can and can't eat, we, including myself, should look in the mirrors first and acknowedge our own short comings. Before we lecture others on what they eat, we should focus on what we eat or don't eat. For all those appalled by the wastefulness by finning, do you eat the feet of the chicken, the stomach of the cow, etc,,

                                                                                    If everybody who is so outraged about shark fins, something that they don't eat anyways, decided to become vegan, then that would do more for the enviornment than California banning shark fins.

                                                                                    1. re: hobbess

                                                                                      I love how this discussion (on a very volatile topic that many appear to be passionate about) has maintained a rational level with interesting responses and minimal heated discussion which so often pollutes threads. So, at least for this long-time reader of Chowhound, thanks to all who have posted.

                                                                                      I thought through the primary arguments that have been posed and I just can't get on board. I agree, the intent is good and the overall argument to ban shark fin is rational, yet (TO ME) something just feels wrong about why shark fin specifically has been targeted and not other more "mainstream" foods.

                                                                                      1) Shark finning is harming shark populations - True. But so is outright consumption of bluefin, orange roughy, cod, grouper and marlin to name a few. I don't know to what level each is being impacted, but from what I read, sounds like all are getting hit pretty badly.
                                                                                      2) Sharks are an apex predator and thus crucial to the balance of the seas - True. But so is bluefin.
                                                                                      3) Finning is cruel - True. But so is how most of our meats (chicken, pork, beef) processed.
                                                                                      4) Finning is wasteful - True. But so is how Americans consume most of our meats. We're an incredibly wasteful society relative to many other countries.
                                                                                      5) You don't have to eat fins to live, so we shouldnt do it - True. But, who are we to dictate what people eat?

                                                                                      Again, I think this is a difficult topic to debate over a message board because it is such a complicated argument with many points of consideration. I guess what I boil down to is, I get why banning shark fin may be a good think. I just don't understand why only shark fin and why not other species as well?

                                                                                      1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                        1) There are bag limits on all of those species, and some of us (a growing number) do not eat threatened species -- it might not be much, but if my refusing to eat bluefin results in just one bluefin surviving to produce another generation, I can live with that.. Each species has its own set of rules - and bluefin was recently the topic of much debate, as a **global** ban on bluefin tuna was being seriously considered.

                                                                                        2) There are severe restrictions on bluefin tuna - see #1

                                                                                        3) Chicken, pork, and beef are not processed by hacking their legs off and letting them bleed out. That's what finning is.

                                                                                        4) Any part of farmed animals (pork, chicken, beef, lamb, etc) is either sold to other countries that **do ** eat those parts (chicken feet to China, for example) -- or ground up for animal feed (now carnivore feed) or processed into fertilizer. Nothing remotely like cutting the fins off and leaving the body of a 100-pound fish to rot.

                                                                                        5) When what people eat affects the entire food chain, then something has to be done...individual rights get outweighed by public need, every single time.

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          sorry, at work so limited time...

                                                                                          Bag limits are very different than outright bans. So why not just put a quota on the amount of shark fin that can be brought into CA? I understand that you don't eat bluefin (neither do I generally), and I assume you don't eat shark fin (neither do I). But that's a personal choice that is very different than an outright ban. So, given bluefin bans were debated, why was it ultimately not banned - we all know that it is an issue that is not going to correct itself on its current trajectory.

                                                                                        2. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                          "I just don't understand why only shark fin and why not other species as well?"

                                                                                          There are lots of aquatic species that have been regulated. Northern Cod fishing was banned due to the complete collapse of stocks. Trawlers and bottom scraping nets have been banned by many countries. Mexico is banning shark fishing next year and a ban on bluefin has been discussed at the EU for quite some time.

                                                                                          I don't think that because there are other species worthy of a ban, or because there are countries which won't institute a ban themselves we should just give up on efforts to create a sustainable fishery. It's not an all-or-nothing proposition.

                                                                                        3. re: hobbess

                                                                                          yes, blue fin is also a predator. I'd support a ban on import of blue fin tuna myself. However, one reason that I think shark fin is a good place to start is that it involves millions of fish from a lot of difference species. Sadly, it may be too late to save the blue fin tuna. It remains to be seen whether it is too late to save our oceans.

                                                                                    2. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                      While I am very much in favor of much tighter shark fishing regulations, I am not sure that I am in favor of an all-out ban on fins. Actually, I like the idea very much, but have misgivings. I have stopped eating mako shark (as much for its really high mercury levels as for conservation. Its not so great anyway). I never eat "chilean seabass", I have never tried bluefin tuna, and I have never seen it on a menu either. While I am aware of the Monterey guidelines, I am not dogmatic about what I eat, although in general I try to go as sustainable as possible. Best fish, of course, is the fish I catch..bluefish and striped bass, if I'm lucky. But the shark issue is actually far more serious than the bluefin or toothfish situation. If enough of the pressure on these fish can be relaxed, their natural fecundity will build up the stocks again...probably tuna faster than toothfish. But sharks follow a different reproductive strategy. They are not at all fecund. They take a long time to mature. They don't usually lay eggs (and when they do, its a very few large ones). They give birth after a long gestation (in which, in some species, larger embryos eat the smaller ones), sometimes to as few as one offspring. A breeding strategy like that is very successful, emphasizing quality over quantity, until fishing pressure is factored in. Then, excessive fishing becomes a recipe for disaster. A one year moratorium on striped bass in 1985, followed by a few years of commercial moratorium, led to a resurgence in the striper population. That will not happen quickly with sharks. They will take decades to recover...that is, if fishing pressure is effectively eased.

                                                                                    3. There will be a horrible cycle here - as millions of Chinese rise in income, shark fin soup is seen as a delicacy they feel they've earned with their rise. So they'll eat more of it. As the price goes up, and more and more sharks get finned to satisfy the demand, they'll want it even more. Its an unsustainable path. So anything that works to change that culture either in China or in overseas communities is a good thing to me.

                                                                                      We can't live in world where a species is hunted into extinction because a wealthy few want to eat powder made from its genitals or something like that..

                                                                                      1. Good idea or great idea? Yes.

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: susans

                                                                                          Ditto.

                                                                                          I really enjoyed shark MEAT - NOT FINS - long, LONG before it was popular. Heck - it was considered a trash fish, & a low-life substitute for swordfish. But once everyone else realized how good it was, that wonderful loophole went down the toilet.

                                                                                          But as far as harvesting the fins & then tossing the rest of the fish back into the sea to die? That's beyond belief, & although I've also been cooking Asian food for years, I've never purchased, nor will I ever purchase, shark fins to make some stupid soup.

                                                                                          I will never understand how a people so intelligent in other ways, still believe that items like shark fins, rhinoceros horns, & other endangered species items are necessary for life. How ignorant & how sad.

                                                                                          1. re: Breezychow

                                                                                            Not "necessary for life", but the Chinese regard gelatinous food to be extra nourishing, e.g. shark fin, fish maw, sea cucumber, birds nest (which is made from the saliva of swifts), frog fat ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasma ) etc. - all of which don't have any taste, but are expensive delicacies.

                                                                                            Unfortunately with controlled access to information, many people in China do not know about the inhumane way the fins are harvested. And with a thousand year tradition behind them, the older people would find it hard to change their thinking. The younger generation would be more sensitive to environmental issues.

                                                                                            1. re: Teep

                                                                                              Do you think people don't know how fins are harvested or is it people don't care? I don't know for certain, but I imagine the latter. For example, with birds nest, don't you have to at least wonder what happens to the birds after you take the nest?

                                                                                              1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                according to the results of a quick google, the birds build a new nest every year.

                                                                                                The problem comes when people harvest the new nest before the birds are done with them.

                                                                                                http://articles.sfgate.com/2000-12-19...

                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                  true. i realize not everyone in china has access to nat geo or other news sources. i still remember reading an article (must've been 15 years ago) showing pics of how all the hatchlings get thrown en masse out of the harvested nests and are left to die on the beach... i've never beena ble to eat birds nest since then because the pics were so jarring.

                                                                                        2. There are misconconceptions about shark fin :

                                                                                          1. "Legal" shark finning ends up using over 90% of the shark for various other purposes in making health products (not Chinese medicine), leather goods and cosmetic products, etc. In Toronto, they only ban shark fin, no ban on other parts and continue to allow shark fishing. If the suituation is that serious, should they ban the whole shark fishing ? Why only ban the fin ? Why throw away the fin which is from legal fishing if there are people who can take it ? And why is it done on a city level in which there is no support from the provincial or federal level ? Shark fishing is legal on the federal level. Banning it promotes underground market and more illegal fishing because it drives up the price.

                                                                                          2. Most of the shark fin used in shark fin soup are from blue shark, this species is not endanger.

                                                                                          3. On what ground people base on when people say shark fin used in shark fin soup are processed only by hacking their legs off and letting them bleed out. From the movies Shark Water ? Does that movies give any 'real' figures or do you have any real figure how many shark fin are coming from cutting the fin off and let the shark die ? Is this "cutting fin" off practice happens one out of thousand ? In fact, European countries export ton of shark which are harvest in a sustainable and humane manner for all different purposes including the shark fin soup demand in China. Should more rules be put in place to punish illegal shark finning instead ? If one's concern is cruelty, there are other food/animal which are processed inhumanely such as foie gras and seal, incident which chicken and cow which are severely abused. Rules should be put in to control this instead of banning people from eating it.

                                                                                          4. Chinese appreciate shark fin for its texture and the unique fishy smell. It gives a special kick and life to the bowl of premium soup base if prepare properly as the cooking method of shark fin is very complicated. It is not only because of it's nutrition value. People who has issue with shark fin criticize people who like it. But OTOH, people who knows how to appreciate shark fin can also criticize those who don't as no taste or lack of knowledge. Everyone's eating preference is different. One should not judge what other person should eat.

                                                                                          44 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: EVOVII

                                                                                            citations, please...

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              http://www.iwmc.org/PDF/StraitsTPress...

                                                                                              here's one. wil admit i don't know whether the source has any ties to "industry"...

                                                                                              1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                There's no disclosure of an industry tie, but clearly the author, Giam Choo Hoo, loves his sharkfin soup.

                                                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                  Can you point out to me where the author say he/she loves sharkfin soup, or is it your own assumption ? And where is your assumption coming from if the author does not say so ? From the name Giam Choo Hoo ?

                                                                                                  1. re: EVOVII

                                                                                                    He defends the right to enjoy it forcefully enough that I assume he does himself. Yes, my assumption. And it would be the same if his name was John Smith or Pablo Escobar or Boris Badenuv.

                                                                                                    By the way, my assumption is buttressed by the article he penned: "Shark Finning: Shark's fin soup - eat without guilt." He is widely known as an advocate of consuming wildlife, and serves on the board of a company that provides crocodile skins to the high end ladies fashion accessory industry.

                                                                                                    Nice try, though.

                                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                      Ok, so it is your assumption. I would like to know if any figures or points provided by his article is not accurate or not valid.

                                                                                                      1. re: EVOVII

                                                                                                        He carefully avoids discussion of the consequences of depleting animal species, or any data points that would lead a thinking person to be concerned about excessive human intervention, which is at the very heart of this thread.

                                                                                                        So much for Mr. Hoo. I respectfully disagree with his and your position on this topic, and we move on. By the way, welcome to Chowhound.

                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                          No discussion, points not talked about, ok. So you find no point or figures in his article that is not valid. There are points from his article that are not talked about in this thread and other shark finning articles too. I hope an adult individual will look at both side, do the research and then come up to his/her own take on this issue. Not just blindly follow others.

                                                                                                          1. re: EVOVII

                                                                                                            As a diver for 33 years and with 12 days underwater, the changes in marine environments I have observed around the world have helped me form my take on this and similar issues. Literature can be misleading; my eyesight isn't.

                                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                              You are talking about the changes in ocean and environment, this is a much bigger topic, and this has much more to do than just a "total" ban on only the "fin" part of the shark, especially most of the shark fin soup consumption is from a species that is not even endanger.

                                                                                                              1. re: EVOVII

                                                                                                                Do you care to disclose your background that explains your point of view? I did.

                                                                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                  A normal chowhounder who love to eat and eat all around the world.

                                                                                                                  1. re: EVOVII

                                                                                                                    Yet your involvement on this site seems to be limited to recent activity in this thread alone. I'm not seeing any reviews or recommendations in your posts.

                                                                                                                    The article in question is quite dated, low on hard figures and is one of the few pro-shark finning articles you'll find on the whole world wide web. Here's a counterpoint www.youtube.com/watch?v=zep7B1esW-M

                                                                                                                    1. re: hal2010

                                                                                                                      So get me the real figure today, show me the number of illegal and inhumane shark finning and compare to the official "legal" and "humane" harvest from EU. You know EU exports thousands of ton of legal shark every year. And tell me why can't we put in more control to this illegal finning instead of banning it. I Also, prove to me our consumption of shark fin soup are not mostly from non-endanger species.

                                                                                                                      1. re: EVOVII

                                                                                                                        You've mentioned "illegal" several times - I hope you understand the nature of illegal acts. Please consider this - the ocean's vastness is incomprehensible to most. What goes on out in the open water - legal or otherwise - is rarely observed, particularly illegal acts. By nature, illegal acts of most kinds are usually preferred to be done under the cloak of covertness. What you ask is in essence a circular argument.

                                                                                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                          The term "illegal" are mentioned several times in this thread (not just my post). I can't help if you cannot even understand the term "illegal" and "inhumane" shark finning when it is mentioned on this topic.

                                                                                                                          1. re: EVOVII

                                                                                                                            Ipso facto, you are the voice of reason for humane shark finning?

                                                                                                                          2. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                            To start off, you could control the docks and ports when the ships return to shore.

                                                                                                                            At that point, check and and accept only fins that were still attached to the shark that isn't endangered, then that would curtail a lot of those issuses even if the fishing goes unobserved out in the open waters.

                                                                                                                            Thus, you wouldn't have to cruise the oceans nor would you need to do DNA testing because you look at the morphology of the animal. Its when the fish or shark has been processed and cut to fillets that makes it difficult to identify and thus the need to turn to DNA testing at that point.

                                                                                                                            1. re: hobbess

                                                                                                                              when I was in the Galapagos, (and the story reminds me of one mentioned elsewhere on the thread about Howard Hall, the well-known underwater photographer), I personally saw a ship loading a full cargo of those truck size boxes. So, how many of those does a large cargo ship hold? a hundred? two hundred? more? and of course, when I say truck boxes, I mean the back of the truck, the cargo part.

                                                                                                                              Anyway, those boxes were filled with sea cucumbers, to be shipped to Japan. So, how many cucumbers do you think that ship had? Must have been at least a million. Think a full size cargo ship, filled with sea cucumbers. Docked at an Island in the Galapagos, within a preservation zone. Keep in mind that harvesting cucumbers is against the law within the conservancy portion of the Galapagos. The owners of our dive boat watched in silent angry frustration: they knew what would/had happened: the Ecuadorian Navy would ask where the cucumbers came from, the company shipping them would swear they were all taken outside of protected waters, and even though the closest unprotected waters with sea cucumbers were hundreds or even thousands of miles away, the Navy would/could do nothing. They didn't have the resources to dispute the claim and they didn't see the cucumbers being taken (the Galapagos Islands, an Ecuadorian National Park, are spread over an area of 17,000 square miles, and patrolling all protected areas by boat is basically impossible). They wouldn't even have the resources to verify that all of those freight boxes contained nothing but cucumbers (although yes, there are indications that taking such large numbers of sea cucumbers from the ocean is also quite damaging, even though obviously they are not predators) and not shark or shark fin, or whatever. Anyway, everybody there realized that some if not all of those sea cucumbers were caught in protected waters, but there really wasn't anything that could be done about it given the country's resources (and the fact that there was no outright ban as long as the stock was taken outside the conservancy zone).

                                                                                                                              That was one ship, on one day. In one port.

                                                                                                                              I'd like to see patrolling of docks, but don't believe it is a practical solution when resources are limited either.

                                                                                                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                Each of those boxes holds roughly 40,000 pounds.

                                                                                                                                That's a LOT of sea cucumbers.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                  For me, it was a shockingly sad and eye-opening end to what had been a wonderful trip.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                    I can't doubt that -- I felt a little ill just reading your post.

                                                                                                                          3. re: EVOVII

                                                                                                                            Well let's start here shall we? (http://www.nature.com/news/2006/06092...) This is from Nature (2006), a respected publication, and it doesn't paint quite as rosy a picture as Mr. Hoo's article.

                                                                                                                            And this one (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/sci...) from The Independent (2008) says that 126 species of sharks are classified as being at risk of extinction – either critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable. That's a few more than the three that Mr. Giam Cham Hoo cherry-picked from CITES most critical category.

                                                                                                                            Finally here's an article from Discover (2009) showing that DNA testing has traced shark fins to endangered species. (http://news.discovery.com/animals/end...

                                                                                                                            There's overwhelming evidence that sharks in general are in danger and endangered species are being finned for sale in the Asian markets. I think it's up to you to prove they're not.

                                                                                                                            1. re: hal2010

                                                                                                                              I am not saying there is no endanger species being finned. I am saying a majority of fins are coming from legal and non-endanger species. Put in rules to punish illegal finning. Add the shark which are endanger to the list to be protected. If a shark is from a legal source, not non endanger, which other parts of the shark are also used for other purpose, it makes no sense to ban just the fin.

                                                                                                                              1. re: EVOVII

                                                                                                                                Finning is already banned in 60 countries but it's having little effect. Same for protection of endangered species. You can't cruise the ocean handing out tickets or DNA test every fish. Education and limiting consumption seems to be the only way to go.

                                                                                                                                /Still waiting for your evidence that the majority of fins are harvested legally from non-endangered species.

                                                                                                                                1. re: hal2010

                                                                                                                                  http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/marine_...

                                                                                                                                  Many of the 'dried stock" shark fin are from blue shark. I agree it should be controlled such as limiting the harvest time but not a total ban just on fin.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: EVOVII

                                                                                                                                    That's just the EU statistics and it states:

                                                                                                                                    " This (pelagic shark) fishery supplies most of the fins exported to China. The state of these stocks is not well known owing to the incomplete nature of catch and fishing effort declarations. "

                                                                                                                                    1. re: hal2010

                                                                                                                                      It also says "Stocks of blue sharks appear to be sound however, unlike many other species." The fins goes to China but these shark are used for other purpose as well, where do you think you get all these health products, leather goods and cosmetic product which use shark skin, bone and oil ?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: EVOVII

                                                                                                                                        From sharks, and we can do without cosmetics and dubious health products made from them, too. But sharks are mostly being caught for their fins - so let's not get distracted by the byproducts.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: hal2010

                                                                                                                                          These are not byproducts. The truth is there are lots of cosmetics and health products made from them nowadays. However, there is no ban on shark bone, oil and skin. The ban is only on fin in Toronto and surrounding cities. Why throw away the fin but use the other parts on these fish, as what I mentioned in my first post ? You have to understand the fins goes to China but the other parts of the fish are also used on a legally harvested shark !

                                                                                                                                          1. re: EVOVII

                                                                                                                                            but they're not -- I started to make a list last night of the sites mentioning that the carcasses are just pitched overboard (to save hold space for fins) -- and it got so long and so detailed that I just gave up.

                                                                                                                                            Just google "shark finning" and start reading...it's **very** sobering, and far more educational (you know, with facts and figures and stuff) than a dated article from a guy who has been quoted on his preference for eating wildlife. His affiliations, as quoted above, mean that the article is EXTREMELY one-sided...and one slanted article just doesn't hold much water against the hordes of other websites and articles that the googling I mentioned will produce.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                              What ? There is shark fishery for other purpose even before shark fin becomes popular. There is a whole list of product of shark :

                                                                                                                                              http://sharkangels.org/index.php?opti...

                                                                                                                                              There is no actual number on both side. There is a global legal shark fishery out there. A ban on the "fin" part of these legally harvested shark whereas other part of the shark can be used is just plain silly. This promotes illegal finning.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                i'd be curious to see the sites you found. Many i found were clearly activist / fringe group sites. Others were somewhat ambiguous about whether "finning" = sharks killed exclusively for fins or just sharks killed for fins and the rest of their parts.

                                                                                                                                                i'm willing to be convinced, but i haven't seen any hard data about how many sharks are actually harvested purely for fins. Probably because that data in itself is very difficult to ascertain. But articles that say 1000 bajillion sharks are killed every year for fins only, is not very helpful...

                                                                                                                            2. re: hal2010

                                                                                                                              i think you'll find that most articles that state figures on finning come from activist animal rights groups and fronts for said groups. i tend to find their numbers / data equally skewed in the opposite direction of industry interests. the truth tends to lie in the middle. i am trying to find the real number of sharks that are killed exclusively for their fins. National Geographic published a 40mm number that is about 1/2 of what the activists say and about 3 - 4x what the industry groups say. but it's unclear whether that is all sharks (including those for consumption) or only those for killed for fins. it's an interesting debate and would love to see real evidence one way or the other.

                                                                                                                              1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                >>...and would love to see real evidence one way or the other.<<

                                                                                                                                As I've tried to impress upon EVOVII, getting hard reliable stats on this kind of thing where so much is done unobserved or under cover is impossible. I mentioned Howard Hall's observations above - I guarantee that most if not all of the shark fins obtained were done illegally but with some paid-off minister's blessings; thus, the security guards and screening, and the fins had to be unaccounted for. I am sure examples like this have been repeated several upon several more times. I would guess that if one were to take reported numbers of sharks taken either as by-catch or purposefully harvested throughout the world versus the number of shark fins or tons sold, one could somehow vaguely approximate how many sharks those numbers represent and compare that number to what has been reported. The difference would be somewhat representative of (with a margin of error of course) of what was poached/unaccounted for. But the number would have a huge margin for error. And with such fuzzy numbers to play with, one would expect each side to have wildly varying numbers.

                                                                                                                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                                  but an inability to verify the sourcing of fins, at least in my opinion, does not warrant an outright ban on any and all fins. to take an easy one, why not ban all caviar as opposed to just the wild Russian, after all, how do we know the sourcing? What about salmon, where wild Atlantic Salmon is banned - how do we know the stuff at whole foods that is labeled "pacific" or "farmed" isn't actually wild Atlantic? Surely there is a better answer than an outright ban of fins - in fact, does that just create waste as sharks that will be otherwise harvested may now have their fins discarded instead.

                                                                                                                                  just imagine if we applied that concept to other aspects of life - "it's too hard to be accurate, so we'll just put in place a blanket policy."

                                                                                                                        2. re: EVOVII

                                                                                                                          but if you ban a specific species, then the demand shifts to another species, which is in turn depleted, so you have to ban THAT species, which shift demand to ANOTHER species...the topple of the dominos just never stops until all the dominos are gone.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                            Sunshine842,

                                                                                                                            So are you saying that chowhounders should stop eating ALL seafood, ie wildlife except for farmed stuff because of this domino effect?

                                                                                                                            1. re: hobbess

                                                                                                                              That's not even remotely what I said.

                                                                                                                            2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                              You get me wrong, I am saying we should put in more monitoring (control harvest time, put in severe rules to punish illegal finning, inspection, etc ...) instead of a complete ban just on the "fin" part of the shark. The ban only makes the suituation worst. There are fins coming from legal harvest shark but are being trashed instead of being used. This promotes more illegal finning as it drives up the price, increase the number of shark being killed (possibly inhumanely just for their fin) !

                                                                                                                              1. re: EVOVII

                                                                                                                                but the fins will be used just like the rest of the non-edible portions of the shark.

                                                                                                                                Because everyone selling fins will SWEAR that they were legally salvaged from legal shark fishing...even though the number of fins is numerically impossible to derive from the number of shark carcasses.

                                                                                                                                It's like the people who dump the baby swiftlets out to harvest the nests...it never dawns on them that if there is no new generation of swiftlets, there will be no new swiftlet nests.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                        Dr Giam Choo Hoo is a Singaporean veterinarian. Strange person - he served as President of the Singapore Veterinary Association and the Association of Veterinary Surgeons Malaysia/Singapore. Dr. Giam ("Giam" is his family name, not "Hoo") served as Deputy Chairman of Jurong Bird Park since 1996. Yet, he espoused wildlife consumption - not conservation ;-)

                                                                                                                        1. re: klyeoh

                                                                                                                          Those affiliations don't scream "raging fin eater apologist" to me. Sunshine, because there is a lone voice in a debate does not necessarily discredit that voice.

                                                                                                              2. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                The article also seems more like a column/opinion - the author can take quite a bit of license. The article is from 2006 - way long ago relative to what's been happening over the past five years. Also, data derived to make this article could be quite dated as well.

                                                                                                                The author writes, "a fishing fleet specialising in catching sharks only for their fins would quickly go out of business." This is very questionable. Underwater photographer/cinematographer Howard Hall wrote an article in an underwater photo mag (Ocean Realm - now defunct), and observed numbers of finning fleets docked in harbors along various Central and South American countries. He observed them unloading nothing but crates and bags of shark fins. In one case (I think it was in Ecuador), he returned the next day to take photos but was stopped by harbor security. The next day, he returned to find that the vantage point to which he had previously observed the shark fin fleets had been screened off from viewing.

                                                                                                          2. The action might save the sharks, but I'm sure they'll start using dolphins, killer whales, seals and sea lions, anything with large fins and flappers, as replacements?!!!

                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                                              You are trying to being funny, right? The texture is primarily what the makes the shark fin unique. The others you mention are full of bones - no threadlike/needle-like cartilage.

                                                                                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                                                If any of those were acceptable replacements (from the culinary point of view or from the money/prestige point of view), I guess we would have heard about it by now. I'm sure they've all been sampled by someone at some point.

                                                                                                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                                                  Suddenly I have a craving for the street food snack "imitation shark fin soup".

                                                                                                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                                                    What could be more Canadian than flipper pie, right Charles? 8^)

                                                                                                                  2. It seems like everything there is to be said on this subject has already been said, and now the conversation is just going in circles, and growing increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock it now.