Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Sharks

Not happy Chinese New Year for the sharks

Posted by on Feb 16, 2013 in Sharks | 0 comments

 

“May our daily choices be a reflection of our deepest values, and may we use our voices to speak for those who need us most, those who have no voice, who have no choice” – Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

 

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January 2nd 2013. Shark fins drying on a Hong Kong building’s roof. Photo from Anthony Dickson/AFP/Getty Images

 

We are currently in the midst of Chinese New Year celebrations – a very colourful and interesting time to be in Sydney.

Alas, Chinese New Year means a surge in demand for shark fin soup. Shark fin is predominantly eaten by the Chinese and Taiwanese and is a symbol of wealth, has a number of dubious and unsubstantiated health claims attributed to its consumption and is often eaten at celebrations such as weddings.

Sharks are killed at the rate of 200,000 per day world wide to meet the world’s demand for their highly valuable fins. For most of these sharks, not only is their death exceptionally cruel but also so obscene in it’s wastefulness of the animals body. The fins are cut off whilst the shark is alive before the shark is thrown overboard to drown or bleed to death. The shark’s body is of less value and is harder to keep fresh so the fishermen would prefer to fill their boats with the valuable fins and discard the live body overboard like rubbish.

Shark populations have declined by 90% in the last 30 years. I find it incomprehensible how mankind has come so perilously close to wiping out a species of creature which has been around for millions of years and is at the top of the food chain in the ocean. What are we thinking ? What is going to happen to the ocean’s ecosystem in the future if we continue to pillage it as we currently are ? All for the sake of some glutinous, tasteless animal part to placate the wealthy Chinese.

Shark finning is illegal in Australian waters (which doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen – a fin-less and dying shark was found washed up on a NSW beach in November 2012) but we still import 10 tonnes per year which seems a touch hypocritical and counterproductive.

What can you do ?

write to the Minister for the Environment to demand legislative change to ban the sale of shark fin in Australia as has occurred in Hawaii, California and Toronto-  to name a few places taking a stand.

– join a group such as Sharksavers, Stop Shark Finning or The Australian Anti Shark Finning Alliance  (TAASFA) to support their campaigns and to educate yourself.

– boycott restaurants who serve shark fin dishes. Unfortunately there are numerous ones in Sydney and Australia wide – ones which I have, regrettably, eaten at numerous times over the years. TAASFA’s wall of shame lists them here. Let the manager of the restaurant know the reasons why you will not support their business.

– support restaurants who have turned their back on this cruel industry – such as award winning Melbourne Cantonese restaurant Flower Drum who removed Shark fin from their menu in 2012. Or, even better, if it’s yum cha you are after, try my favorite haunt, Bodhi in Sydney – beautiful setting with not a shark fin or any other animal product to be seen on the menu.

– don’t underestimate the power of the individual. The collective rise in public condemnation of shark finning worldwide has seen a ban on the practice in the European Union as of 2012 (which is encouraging as Spain has been the largest supplier over recent years) and has seen large, luxury hotel chains such as the Shangri-la in Hong Kong (shark fin capital of the world) recently abandoning it from its menu and airline Cathay Pacific no longer carrying it on board.

 

 

 

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