Dried out shark fins stock countless shelves all over Chinatown, but New York legislators have just announced a bill that may ban their sale. About 73 million sharks are killed and stripped of their fins each year to produce ingredients for shark fin soup. Similar bills have already been passed in California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, with bills in Florida, Illinois, Maryland, and Virginia not far behind.

shark fin soup, shark fin ban, Chinatown, Oceana, ethical treatment of animals, endangered species

Jars of dried shark fins can go from $100 to $500 a pound, and the product is considered a delicacy in traditional Chinese cuisine. They are then boiled up and served in soups to celebrate weddings and other celebrations, thought to have the power to bring good luck and good health. But what many people may not realize, is that the fisherman that bring in these shark fins often do only that. Finding the rest of the shark useless, they often cut the fins off and throw the bloodied shark back into the ocean to die.

Many banquet halls in New York have phased out shark fin soup for ethical and environmental reasons, but many remain, as the elderly, more traditional Chinese customers still demand the dish. Despite adding little or not flavor to food, shark fin is seen as a status symbol, the food of an emperor, ordered to show a family’s worth at special occasions. But the younger, more environmentally sensitive generation has lost interest in this tradition.

Scientists from conservation group Oceana estimate that if the bill passes and the sale of shark fins are banned in New York State, the effect would be great on the entire industry. They estimate that New York is possibly the largest consumer of shark fins on the East Coast, and thus the ban would save countless sharks, many whose species have neared extinction from the industry.

Via New York Times

Lead Image © Nicholas Wang via Creative Commons
Second image © Jason Robertshaw via Creative Commons