A couple of Wall Street Journal articles caught my attention because they reminded me of my heritage, Chinese and Hawaiian. In both cases the news was good. The first was reported from Hong Kong, where my father had been born. And that is the article about which I’m writing now.
“Ban on Shark Fin Soup Advances Through Asia“ was something that needed to happen…long before now. That sharks are caught, their fins hacked off and their writhing bodies tossed back into the ocean is the height of human arrogance in my estimation.
As a child I refused to eat shark fin soup as a guest at a Chinese restaurant. Consuming any part of a shark was pretty scary then. When we had occasion to dine out, our family enjoyed egg noodle or won ton soup. It was more our style and more befitting my mom’s pocketbook. According to Jason Chow, the article’s author, “Shark fin, which can cost up to $400 a pound in Hong Kong, is traditionally served as a soup and is seen as a status symbol in Chinese culture, revered for its supposed powers to enhance sexual potency and skin quality.”
A major supporter of the ban is the luxury Shangri-La hotel chain, which refuses to serve shark fin in all of its 72 hotels. Shangri-La Asia Ltd. has been at the forefront of the surging opposition which environmental and animal-rights groups have long championed. In December 2010 the hotel continued to serve shark fin soup upon request, but as of this week the ingredient has been banned altogether. According to Maria Khun, director of communications at the Shangri-La in Hong Kong, ” ‘the feedback…has been phenomenally positive…in the long term, the ban won’t have an effect on business.’ ”
Joining the efforts to bring a halt to hunting and trading the endangered fish are The Peninsula Hotels, whose ban preceded the Shangri-La’s.
“The Peninsula said that before its ban, more than nine-tenths of its
Chinese banquets at its Hong Kong hotel served shark fin. The hotel
said its banquet business hasn’t suffered since the ban was announced.”
Singapore retailers FairPrice, Carrefour and ColdStorage have also halted the sale of shark fin in their Hong Kong outlets. Chinese restaurant chain South Beauty has also climbed aboard by removing the soup from its menus. Within the U.S., legislation has been enacted banning the trade, sale and possession of shark fin in Hawaii, California, Washington and Oregon.
Bucking the trend is “Sun Tong Lok, a high-end restaurant in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district that is renowned for its shark fin soup–the dish can cost up to $390 for a tureen that contains a 500-gram (1.1 pound) fin–there are no plans to take it off the menu.”
I shudder to think what sharks would do to humans if the roles were reversed…in a topsy-turvy world.
…could you blame them?…