"Distaste Widening for Shark’s Fin Soup"

"Hong Kong — Coral Seafood Restaurant owner Norman Ho’s problem with shark’s fin soup is not that he’s worried about sharks. It’s that making a flavorful soup out of the tasteless fins is an elaborate, costly process.

The fins have to be soaked in cold water for half a day and then boiled with ginger and spring onions. Then soaked in tap water for four hours. And finally boiled for six to eight hours with chicken stock and Chinese ham to add flavor because there’s no taste otherwise. ...

The power of shark’s fin soup to convey status is enormous, and it pervades Chinese society. Serving shark’s fin soup at auspicious events has been a tradition for centuries among elites, but the Chinese bridal and restaurant industries have turned it into an essential element of any middle-class wedding or important business meal. As China’s economy expands, more people are putting the soup on the menu.

But activists in Asia and elsewhere are challenging the tradition, citing statistics that show the shark-fin trade may kill as many as 73 million sharks a year. It is possibly the single-largest threat to sharks worldwide, along with the incidental catch of sharks in global tuna and swordfish fisheries."

Juliet Eilperin reports for the Washington Post June 5, 2011.

Monday, June 6, 2011