Shark fin soup is a delicacy in many Asian countries. The soup derives from Chinese origin, made with shark fin and flavored with chicken or other stocks. Surprisingly, the fin itself has very little flavor and is primarily used to add texture to the dish (Shark Fin Soup). Costing upwards of $100 per bowl, shark fin soup is often used as a symbol of status, served to guests at important events such as weddings and business banquets. In the past, Chinese Emperors favored this soup as a dish that honored guests because it was believed to have medicinal benefits, as well as represented a victory against powerful sharks (Fairclough). Due to the sudden increase in prosperity in the Far East, shark fin soup is being consumed in vast quantities, placing an unsustainable demand on shark populations (Shark Fin Soup).

Globally, tens of millions of sharks are slaughtered every year to satisfy the demand for shark fin soup. At least 8,000 tons of shark fins are shipped to restaurants around the world (Shark Finning). These sharks are generally not caught for their meat, but particularly for their valuable fins. The most prized shark fins can cost hundreds of dollars, the average being about $450 US dollars per pound. Shark meat is worth less than most fish (WildAid). Shark fins are used as the main ingredient, although it doesn’t offer much flavor (Shark Fin Soup). The fins are collected by a process called shark finning which is the practice of slicing off the shark’s fins while the shark is still living, and then throwing the rest of the shark’s body back into the ocean. The finned sharks do not die peacefully, unable to swim properly and bleeding profusely, they suffocate or die of blood loss (Shark Finning).

Sharks can take anywhere from 7 to over 20 years to reach maturity, meaning that it takes shark populations a long time to recover. The current demand for their find makes it impossible for populations to return to normal levels. Sharks are considered top predators and when they are removed from the ocean, the entire eco-system then will suffer (Shark Fin Soup). With their slow growth and low reproductive rates, sharks are highly susceptible to extinction, and its difficult for many species of sharks to replenish their populations as quickly as they are being diminished (Fairclough).

In large parts of the oceans, populations of sharks are already down by ninety percent or more in the last 20 years, and many species will not be able to out-reproduce the demands of the shark fin trade. Sharks have survived for over 450 million years and we are on course for killing them in the next few years. Then, there will be no more shark fin soup, other seafood species will disappear, and the oceans will no longer support the healthy balance of sea life that we need to survive (WildAid).

 

 

Works Cited:

“What Is Shark Finning?” Stop Shark Finning.03 June 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

“Shark Fin Soup – What’s the Scoop?” Stop Shark Finning. 03 June 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Fairclough, Caty. “Shark Finning: Sharks Turned Prey.” Ocean Portal | Smithsonian. Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, 23 Aug. 2016. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.

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“Shark Fin Soup.” Shark Savers :: Shark Fin Soup. WildAid, Web. 26 Apr. 2017.

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