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California Considers Shark's Fin Ban; Controversy Ensues

Shark Fin Bans: Environmentally Conscious or Culturally Insensitive?

In less than four months, the state of Hawaii will be shark fin-free, and soon, the same could happen in California. The golden state is currently deliberating a piece of legislation that would ban the sale and possession of shark fins, too.

Proponents of the ban don't just cite the inhumane practice of cutting fins off live sharks, but the staggering drop in ocean shark populations as well: 73 million sharks are killed every year, and populations are just 10 percent of what they used to be. And, argues one San Francisco food critic, there are plenty of viable (and innocuous) substitutes for shark's fin.But not everyone feels this way. "The practice of shark's fin soup has been in our culture for thousands of years. There ought to be a way to find a balance between the environment and preserving culture and heritage," California state Sen. Leland Yee maintained.

"While we're at it, I'd also ban Caspian caviar and bluefin tuna until their fisheries recover. No doubt, that would raise an uproar in certain other cultural communities," Chinese-American chef Jonathan Wu retorted. Tell me what you think: is banning shark's fin environmentally conscious, or culturally insensitive?

Source: Flickr User closari

Join The Conversation
TheEnchantedOne TheEnchantedOne 6 years
I hope the same ban reaches the rest of the world. I've long since given up shark's fin on anything when eating in a Chinese restaurant. This news makes me glad.
looseseal looseseal 6 years
The texture of shark fin is very similar to snot. Yeah, I've eaten it before I knew where it came from (it's served almost every time someone holds a big banquet in a Chinese restaurant to celebrate anything). Now I refuse to eat it. I'm Chinese, and the people who claim this is "culture" are full of it. It's a big money maker is what it is. I think how it originated is more because some douchebag king wanted to feel like a big shot by eating a dangerous creature, and people who had enough money emulated it, just like how some people these days copy what celebrities do, not because it has any deep meaning. This connection to "culture" is some made-believe thing made up by people in the shark fin trade. Unless you count douchebaggery as a significant culture.
Rosay77 Rosay77 6 years
I'm Chinese and find it to be cruel. It's most definitely not culturally insensitive. Argument from Tradition is terrible. Also, Shark Fin soup doesn't taste like anything. It's just a delicacy. No Chinese person eats Shark Fin Soup on a daily basis so if it's gone, no one will really miss it.
tigr3bianca tigr3bianca 6 years
There's an imitation shark fin soup and is very popular in Hong Kong so I really don't understand if there is an acceptable substitute why anyone would continue this horrible practice.
nylorac nylorac 6 years
Ban sharking and enforce anti-whaling legislation. Nothing culturally insensitive when we're decimating the population of certain species. It is cruel, unusual, and tasteless (pun intended).
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 6 years
Not only is it cruel and damaging to the environment, but think about the devastating effect this could have on Shark Week.
machula machula 6 years
culturally insentive? I just don't understand what is cultural (or sensitive, for that matter) about cutting of fins from a live sharks and throwing them back to the sea, living, breathing, unable to move or propell themselves, because they have no fins, which means that they eventually drown. all this just to have soup. consider this, SOUP. the only thing this is, is that it's ignorant. sharks are an indespensable predator keeping in balance our waters, without them, the balance is overthrown and that means implications for the entire ecosystem and that in turn signifies implications on humans. overfishing is a nasty thing, be it sharks or bluefin tuna (or tuna as such) or whales. people should wake up and think what they're eating and reconsider, this is not something that can be brushed off claiming that the ocean's treasures are indefinite and there for us to be used as we think fit.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 6 years
Wholeheartedly agree, danaruth.
danaruth danaruth 6 years
Yes it should be banned, if the practice is endangering an animal's population in the wild. I'd have no problem saying the same thing about Caspian sturgeon or blue fin tuna. Just because we CAN eat something doesn't mean we have the right to doom a species to extinction. There are always alternatives for whatever you are craving that are environmentally sustainable. And the "it's part of our culture" excuse doesn't stand. It's also part of certain cultures to use tiger penis and rhino horn as an aphrodisiac. Should we allow these animals to be hunted (or poached) into extinction because it's part of someone's culture? Having these animals around for our children to see and learn about is part of the world's culture. Stop being so selfish.
susanec susanec 6 years
Watch 'Sharkwater' - the whole hunting process is horrific.
amber512 amber512 6 years
I didn't even know about this! How unnecessarily cruel.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 6 years
I don't care if it's culturally insensitive. Killing millions of apex predators for a fraction of their meat is incredibly dangerous to the worlds oceans. Shark fining is a process where the fins and tails of sharks are cut off and the remainder of the often still living fish is thrown back into the ocean. Sharks then sink to the bottom, unable to swim and die a slow, agonizing death. Every year, tens of millions of sharks are killed in this manner for shark fin soup, a tasteless, Asian delicacy. This unnecessary dish has been a major contributor to the near collapse of many shark species world-wide as well as in California. Sharks maintain the natural balance in our oceans marine food web. Scientists are warning that the massive decline of sharks is having a devastating effect on the marine ecosystem. It's a disgusting practice, and I fully support the ban. Just because it's part of your culture, doesn't mean it's ok to continue, knowing you're causing devastating, irreputable damage.
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