Shark fin soup’s days may be numbered

Shark fin soup. Photo courtesy of jay.tong (Creative Commons)

Shark fins, long a delicacy in China that have brought in up to $300 per pound according to Treehugger, may be on the out in Hong Kong.  A recent survey of 1,000 Hong Kong residents found that 78% of respondents viewed taking shark fin soup off menus as “acceptable” or “very acceptable.”

So what message are Hong Kong residents sending with this strong vote against serving shark fin soup?

Environmentalists point to the inhumane treatments of sharks hunted for their fins.  The hope is that as fewer restaurants serve shark fin soup, fewer consumers will request shark fins, demand will fall, and the dwindling shark population will be given a chance to rebound.

Inhumane treatment of sharks and whales dates back to the 19th century and earlier.  As Mellville showed the world in Moby Dick, humankind’s inclination to do battle with great creatures of the sea has indeed resulted in over a century of inhumane treatment; many whale and shark populations are on the decline, and the latest numbers out of Hong Kong point to a concern for the future of the shark.

While fishers and restauranteers may be disappointed with the latest numbers, the numbers are a major victory for environmentalists.

Will Mainland China follow suit, or will mainlanders still continue to order shark fin soup?  Hong Kong may have some say in the matter, since it is such a large exporter of shark fins.  Environmentalists certainly hope that the latest poll out of Hong Kong is characteristic of a China-wide viewpoint.

About Andrew McIntyre

Andrew McIntyre is Deputy Editor for U.S.-China Today. He received a B.A. (Music) from Emory University and an M.M. (Music Theory) from University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has previously taught at Tangshan Oriental Bilingual School, Communication University of China, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. He is currently a Dean’s Scholar, Teaching Assistant, and M.A. student (Print Journalism) at University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
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