Will we have shark’s fin soup this year?

Chinese New Year is this Sunday. Usually, we have noodles, meat & rice, low hai and sometimes shark’s fin soup. But my family are umming and ahhing this year because of the sad, sad shark video we saw today. Not gory, but – wow – how difficult to watch. Even if you try not to think about how much it suffers, seeing a shark without its fins just looks so wrong. :(

Controversy over shark’s fin soup has been going on for years. Giam Choo Hoo made good points about the public seeing selective imagery of mistreated animals and assuming the industry is lax and corrupt. At least, that was my assumption when I first saw the video.

Shark’s fin soup is delicious – taste and texture – and always served at happy occasions. Growing up eating it as the norm, it’s difficult to associate this meal with cruelty and suffering. And you know, when you learn about industry and practicality, you can pretty much figure it doesn’t make sense to do this kind of thing.

But it still happens. You see evidence of it happening, even with laws and regulations. What can you do?

Earlier today, I thought I would stop eating shark’s fin soup made with real shark’s fin (you can get gelatin-based imitation stuff) until this kind of thing stops. But will it stop? Even with more vigilant patrols, harsher penalties, stricter regulations, you still have to catch the culprits first. And if demand does drop and shark cruelty does stop, would it create a diminished industry with fewer jobs to offer hungry people? Could that be incentive for other bad stuff happening elsewhere?

As a consumer with very little control over how the rest of the world operates, I have no idea how to approach this in a right and meaningful way. I feel anxious that I don’t know what to do, and maybe even a little desperate to pick a side so I’d at least have something fixed to use as a reference. But there’s just so many uncertainties.

Maybe it’s all just Western propaganda. Maybe we Chinese have evil diets and superstitions. Maybe this is the nature of a dominant species. Maybe intelligent sharks are plotting against us and this is all part of the conspiracy. Maybe things just are what they are and all we have are equally correct and justified points of view. Maybe none of these things.

There’s still have half a packet of shark’s fin in the pantry. If all is as we hope, it is a genuine discard of a good fishing industry and okay to eat. If not, throwing it out would only add insult to injury. Many facts, many claims all over the world and the internet – but no way of knowing for sure.

We’ll probably eat what’s left over and not get any more. Forgetting right or wrong for a moment, it’s just hard not to associate it with sad things and maybes. I imagine this may be the unspoken topic at our dinner table. As an individual, perhaps the most meaningful thing I can do for now is consider and appreciate.

Image source: chee.hong