Shark fin soup, as we all know, is commonly consumed in Chinese weddings, birthday dinners, or during the Chinese New Year. It is mainly served as a show of wealth and status, and has neither nutritional values nor taste (in a bowl of shark fin soup, the shark fins provide texture but the taste actually comes from other ingredients).
Besides the act of cruelty that involves throwing back the sharks’ bodies alive after cutting their fins off, and letting them die a slow, traumatic death, there are also many reasons why conservationists are concerned about protecting the sharks. Let’s find out more.
1. Sharks may face extinction.
Overfishing is a huge problem for sharks. Millions of sharks are being killed every year due to the high demand in its fins. The problem is aggravated by the fact that unlike other types of fish, sharks breed infrequently, which means it takes longer to replace their population. In the long run, this species of fish may face the threat of extinction if the problem is not managed properly.
2. It affects the ecosystem.
Studies have shown that the decrease in the number of sharks causes a spike in cownose ray (which sharks eat), and it in turn dramatically lowers the population of bay scallops, cownose rays’ main food source. So, what is the concern? Scallops affect the water quality because they help filter and clean the water. Not having enough scallops means dirtier water, and a filthier coast.
3. Shark meat may not be good for us.
Recent evidence tells us that shark fins contain high concentration of mercury and methylmercury, which toxins may cause potential health impact including the risk of neurological disorders, infertility, and coronary heart disease. Furthermore, shark fin is tasteless, so why eat it at all?
Photo credits: Shark Savers
Some say that sharks are worth a lot more alive, as a source of tourism – in diving excursions where tourists and diving enthusiasts spend money to observe these amazing creatures, the local tourism sector can benefit from it and fetch a lot more money as compared to the sale of shark fins.
Is there an alternative to shark fin soup? The answer is yes. More people are embracing shark fin substitutes, such as dish fish maw or mock fin made with gelatin, which can taste just as good.