Shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in Chinese cuisine, but there is nothing delicate about the way fishermen get the fins off the sharks. Fishermen catch the animal and drag it aboard the boat, hack off its fin muscles, then throw it back into the sea, unable to swim and certain to die. More than 70 million sharks every year drown, bleed to death or are eaten alive by predators after this mutilation.
New York State is moving towards joining the entire U.S. West Coast, Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands in banning shark fins to prevent the extreme cruelty and population depletion that are unavoidable ingredients of the soup, and New York City is jumping on board. On the East Coast, New York has the biggest market for shark fins.
New York’s City Council is considering a resolution calling on the state legislature and Governor Cuomo to enact a pending bill that would “prohibit the possession, sale, offer for sale, trade, or distribution of shark fins.” In a rally on May 17th by legislators and advocacy groups including the Humane Society of the United States, Natural Resources Defense Counsel, Oceana, and others, Asian-American City Council Member Margaret Chin said:
As we all know, in our country the main consumers of shark fin are Asian American communities. Shark fin soup may be a time honored tradition for a small group of people but it has no place in today’s society. Let’s call this trade what it is: illicit, inhumane and unnecessary. I stand here today to say that I will not support an industry that thrives off cruelty.
Photo credit: Humane Society of the United States
Council Member Daniel Dromm agreed, saying, “We must to put an end to the shark fin trade before it is too late. The practice is both cruel and reckless, and the effects on our ecosystem have been devastating.” Indeed, some shark populations have already fallen by up to 90 percent.
Legislation is not the only tactic finning opponents are deploying to end the inhumane industry. Ramsay screened video for and publicly called on restaurant owners to remove shark fin soup from their menus. In Vancouver, chefs competed in a “Sans Fin Soup Contest” sponsored by Shark Truth to create the best fin-free version of the recipe. In New York, restaurants that serve the soup are experimenting with substitutes for shark fins in anticipation of the ban becoming law. Let’s hope it does. New York residents, please help by signing this petition.