Restaurants Ignore Shark Fin Laws Despite Eco-system Damage

Shark Fin Soup Shark Fin Soup

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  • Author: Sierra Grice
  • Press: Shark Magazine
  • Date: Thursday, 22 November 2012

The year 2011 brought great change in the fight to ban shark fin soup in the United States. While still legal in many places, a few states started taking a stand in a big way. Chris Gregoire, the former governor of Washington State, banned the sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins on May 12, 2011.

Shark lovers everywhere rejoiced, feeling a sense of accomplishment for their efforts to overthrow the cruel practice of shark finning, and the national business of fin distribution.

However, it did not take long for the other shoe to drop. Restaurants in the few states that had banned shark fin trade are still participating in buying and serving the product to their customers. The fact that it is illegal has not seemed to deter restaurant owners, who seem to be willing to risk hefty fines and public backlash in favor of the high price some will pay for the well-known Asian delicacy.

In Seattle alone there is a whole list of restaurants that are illegally participating in the sale of shark fin soup. The Hong Kong Seafood restaurant in Seattle doesn’t seem to be hiding the fact that they are skirting around the law. Their crab meat and shark fin soup is listed right on their menu for $38.95! Sun Ya Seafood restaurant, also located in Seattle, offers two shark fin soup options.

It may come as a shock that these restaurants are still serving it, but enforcement of the ban is not nearly as quick or efficient as those concerned with shark welfare would like.

Those unfamiliar with the ban may be wondering why the sale of shark fin soup is such a big deal. After all, it is an Asian delicacy that has been around for years. It’s commonly used at prestigious Chinese social events, such as weddings and public affairs.

The reason that shark finning and the consumption of shark fin soup are wrong is twofold.

First, it is an enormous animal welfare issue. Shark lovers cringe at the sight of shark finning, a process which involves slicing off the fins of still-living sharks and throwing the wriggling and pain-ridden creatures back into the sea. When they are back in the water, finless, they cannot move properly so they either bleed out or are eaten alive.

The second reason why shark fin consumption should be banned, and the reason with the most far-reaching consequence, is the impact it has on Earth’s natural resources. Natural resources are becoming less sustainable due to animal harvesting practices. This is because each time humans drastically change the existence of one species, that eco-system works as a pendulum, coming back the other way to destroy everything in its path.

Shark finning is a multi-billion dollar industry. We are not just talking about a small amount of shark fins, but rather a number big enough to substantially decrease shark species everywhere. While the specific impact on our environment cannot possibly be measured yet, scientists are looking at more generalized clues. These clues include the increased number of species that sharks normally keep from overpopulating. With those species becoming larger, they are feeding more and more on smaller species that are needed to keep the ocean healthy. It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out what an unhealthy ocean can lead to in the future.

To help make a difference start doing some research regarding the laws about shark finning in your area. If shark fin soup is in your area, it is likely to show up on the menus of Asian restaurants. After I gathered a list of restaurants that listed shark on their menu, I started giving them calls to find out whether they still offered shark and if so, where they purchased it from. Every place that I called did not want to tell me who their supplier was. In fact, while most of the openly admitted to serving shark, there were a few managers that changed their story after I informed them it is unlawful.

If you are feeling passionate about the welfare of sharks and the conservation of Earth’s resources, you may be wondering what you can do to help. If you discover that you live in a state that has not yet banned the trade of shark fins, then you can start the campaign to get it banned. That will likely be your first step, since you can’t enforce a law that doesn’t yet exist. The majority of America has still not banned shark fin soup so there is much work to be done. The work you put into banning it will not only serve your community, your country, and your world in regards to the environment, but you will be standing up for a very special creature that cannot make a stand for themselves.

If you live in a state where it is illegal, and you discover that a restaurant or market is breaking the law, then make some noise about it! Report them to your local newspaper and TV news station. With the information I gathered through thorough research, I am determined to present an authentic and detailed list of law-breakers to the proper authority.

The welfare of sharks and the protection of our resources are in the hands of people like you-shark lovers who wish to make your voice heard.



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