Why Was Trump Eating Shark Fin Soup?

President Donald Trump has found himself in yet another controversy; for once, the focus is not on what came out of his mouth, but rather what he put in it.

Over the weekend, Trump shared a dinner with Vietnamese leaders in Hanoi. According to reports, Trump was served a course of shark fin soup, which he apparently consumed.

Though shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in some cultures, it is a dish that is frequently protested by animal rights activists. Fishermen will often catch sharks, cut off their fins and then throw the often mortally wounded sharks back into the ocean since it’s just the fins that fetch top dollar at market for use in these soups.

Thankfully, public awareness of this problem has helped to drive down the demand for shark fin soup. Still, with over 100 million sharks killed annually, there is still a lot of work to go.

“We are dismayed at the news that President Trump was served and ate shark fin soup,” said Azzedine Downes, president of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). “Actions like this undermine global conservation efforts and signal to world leaders that the U.S. is abandoning its leadership role.”

Who thought it was a good idea to serve Trump a delicacy anyway? Just a week ago, we learned from Trump’s bodyguard that he’s had to go to McDonald’s to fetch dinner for the president when the White House kitchen couldn’t get a hamburger to his liking.

Given that Trump was served the dish by foreign dignitaries and it might be considered rude to decline it, the incident could and maybe even should be written off as a bad look for Vietnam rather than Trump.

However excusing it would also require ignoring Trump’s own disdain for sharks. Although shark finning was banned in the United States in 2000, through loopholes, some restaurants got away with selling shark fin soup anyway, including at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. [This casino has since closed following the parent company’s bankruptcy and a worker strike.]

In 2013, a conservationist confronted Trump on his favorite medium – Twitter – about serving shark fin soup. His response was literally an incredulous, “You like sharks?”

When that caused more of an uproar, Trump typed a follow-up message: “Sorry folks, I’m just not a fan of sharks – and don’t worry, they will be around long after we are gone.”

Firstly, it’s disappointing to see Trump buying into the “sharks are villains” portrayal the creatures receive from the media. Last year, there were 84 unprovoked shark attacks against humans around the world. In comparison, humans kill somewhere between 100-273 million sharks each year.

Secondly, what basis does he have for dismissing the concerns of scientists who believe sharks could be headed toward extinction? Sharks reproduce slowly, they’re pulled out of the ocean at unsustainable rates and already one-third of all shark species are either endangered or threatened.

Of course, that seems to be his attitude about all sorts of environmental issues since he’s become president. His approach is to ask Americans to ignore the wealth of scientific research pointing out the various threats we face, and to instead trust him that everything will be okay.

As the IFAW pointed out earlier, we probably can’t trust Trump to take a moral lead on the disgusting practice of shark finning, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should give up on it. Join hundreds of thousands of other people in the Care2 community in urging FedEx to stop shipping shark fins by signing this petition.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

88 comments

Pat P
Pat P20 days ago

Having the American "leader" exhibit such cruelty toward animals is a pathetically cowardly representation to the rest of the world!

Worldwide, there have been few shark attacks on humans--many mistake people for other marine life (sharks do not find us a tasty meal. Yet, humans slaughter a huge quantity and variety of sharks.

What is even more incredulous is the ridiculous price for shark soup (FINS?!) Often, people will eat ANYTHING, if it appears to enhance their status, even superficially. Slaughtering a shark for no reason other than to cut off their fins (arms), throwing them back into the water to suffocate and bleed to death, often torn apart by other hungry marine life (usually, a large illegal Chinese industry operation) --is malicious, callous, insensitive, barbaric, cruel, etc. "T" has NO problem with the mass slaughter of ANY species--even the most beloved and most endangered--including the entire ESA!

DT has no concern for others (human or animal)--no compassion, no empathy--just a cruel corrupt narcissistic bully. In stead of making his first foreign visit in office to a developed modern ally, like the U.K., Germany, France, Australia or one of major traders Canada, Mexico or even China--he goes to the backward and close-minded Saudis (9/11 attackers).
At one time or another, he has expressed admiration, in some way, for a great many of the world's well-known dictators.

A decent host will always

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Magdalen B
Magdalen B22 days ago

There's a lot of upset here about what " he apparently consumed". Did somebody who was present report it? If so, say so. If not...

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Magdalen B
Magdalen B22 days ago

Or "guest"?

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Nicole H

Sorry, sorry : not ghost but HOST of course !! Slip of the pen, I mean my brains....

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Nicole H

2.- Now as far as this condemnation of Trump is concerned. I am, since day 1, AGAINST THIS MAN, not only as a president, also as a human being. As president he is totally incapable of whatsoever. He has no idea what he is talking about, has NO idea about international affairs, knows nothing about the economical situation in his country, nor does he has any feeling or compassion with the poor, the disabled, the veterans with PTSD, the elderly and more vulnerable people in the U.S. Instead of investing in modern industries, all he wants to do is opening coal and oil mines. Instead of investing in education, he prefers to give the money to the military. He is NOT a general in the army, he is THE POTUS OF THE U.S. and he should act like one. But this is all far behind his possibilities.
As far as the consumption of the shark fin soup however, I now think that you are taking it way too far. Could he avoid a diplomatic incident ?? Had he the liberty to choose. Mostly they have not. As ghost in a foreign country you are supposed to eat their specialities. Even if Trump could have made a choice, it would have been appreciated by the Vietnamese Government that he would chose one of their specialities. And not a juicy burger, or a bouillabaisse, or even a vegan diet.... which some of you would have wanted. Do not see wrong in EVERYTHING he does !!

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Nicole H

I find this a rather ridiculous expression : "fishermen will often catch shark, cut off their fins and then throw the often ?? mortally wounded sharks back into the ocean.... " My God, it are not just some fishermen who will "often" catch..... It are International GANGS who illegally fish the sharks, and ONLY sharks, cut off their fins and throw them back, severely bleeding, into the ocean, where they are immediately attacked and eaten by other sharks. You make it seem like a little fairy tale story... It is ILLEGAL MURDER ! IT IS ILLEGAL DEADLY SUFFERING OF ALL THESE SHARKS. Do you really think that they are only "mortally wounded" ?? Then you still believe in Santa as well. It is NOT A SIMPLE POOR FISHERMAN who is responsible for these thousands and thousands of MURDERS. It are international ILLEGAL companies, with big money, with big, well equipped modern ships, on which the fins are cleaned and deep frozen and packed, who are working for Asian - mostly CHINESE ILLEGAL Companies !! So, just write what it really is, and don't turn around the pot !!
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Maureen G
Maureen G24 days ago

I feel this article does not place the blame for the shark fin soup in the right place. Was Trump meant to cause an international incident regarding shark fins at the dinner table? Yes....target FedEx but also the countries where this cruelty is acceptable. I am not a US citizen and am getting tired of this constant targeting of Trump. He is your President for right or wrong, for good and bad ......get over it.








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sandra m
sandra m24 days ago

this is so hypocritical.. I remember Obama eating in a restaurant that served this soup and everybody being upset about it because he shouldn't have been in there at all... but everything is forgiven and he's the wonder boy again and nobody killed him for it.

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Leanne K
Leanne K25 days ago

I am fervently anti gun but sorry not in his case. Cmon all you sadistic mass shooters, theres the one target I wouldnt feel too bad about..

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Leanne K
Leanne K25 days ago

Because that lousy man not only thinks shark fin soup and the massacres behind it are fine, he is deliberately announcing that he intends to undermine and revoke every animal welfare consideration in place and deliberately provoking animal activists, and enjoying it.

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