Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Why We Won't Review Restaurants That Have Shark's Fin on Their Menu


Last week The Yum List published our goals for 2013. One of which was to be better ambassadors for sustainable living by not accepting requests for reviews from restaurants that have shark's fin on their menus. Kenny Peavy, environmental consultant, explains why this is such an important choice. 

Shark’s Fin Soup

Shark’s fin soup is a popular dish on many Chinese restaurant menus. However, the consumption of shark’s fin is environmentally unsustainable and ethically irresponsible. Here is why:

To make shark's fin soup, fishermen catch sharks and cut off their fins. They throw the rest of the shark back into the ocean because the meat of the shark is considered less valuable and not worth keeping.  The sharks are often still alive and left to slowly drown because without their fins they can no longer swim!

Fisherman harvesting shark fins don’t discriminate on age or size. They take the fins of every shark regardless of age or size. This happens to nearly 100 million sharks every year.

Not only is this cruel, it is also unsustainable and harmful to the planet! Sharks are a very important part of the marine ecosystem. They are top predators and keep the ocean’s ecosystems in a healthy balance by keeping other fish populations in control. This disrupts the delicate web of life and affects all other species in our oceans.




We all have a choice and we all can make a difference. Our daily choices of the food we eat have a profound effect on our environment. Choose wise. Choose to say NO to shark’s fin soup.

Kenny Peavy is The Yum List's official environmental consultant. For more information on what we can do to make the world we live in a better place, visit his site at:

Even the not so sweet tongued Gordon Ramsay finds the practice of shark's finning vile.


* This video was shared with me by a friend who found this post by Adam Mordecai
Gordon Ramsay's full length version can be found here. (Preview before watching in front of children as Gordon uses his usual barrage of, what some call, coarse language.)

The Yum List says NO to shark's fin soup.

** Additional note:  Turns out this new year's resolution is causing quite a stir amongst those in the industry and fellow food bloggers. It has also become apparent that the choice in which restaurants to review is not as clear cut as I thought it would be. Some restaurants have told me that they don't sell shark's fin full stop. Others have said that it's not on the menu, but will be sold if a customer requests it. Others have a firm policy that it will not be sold at anytime and yet others have told me that they don't have it on the menu, but clients have said that it is available upon request. So...

... without playing detective and doing undercover investigation to find out if hotels/ restaurants indeed will or won't sell shark's fin, I've decided to base decisions on whether or not it's on the printed menu.  The point of this new year's resolution is not to be punitive but rather raise awareness and increase education surrounding the issue so that both sides, clients and businesses, can make better informed decisions especially in regards to how their food choices impact the environment (and their children's future!). Seems the goal is being achieved as there is a lot of conversation (more than I expected!) around our decision.

Would love to read your feedback!

21 comments:

  1. yes is a no no for me too..
    I had ordered my CNY reunion dinner and I had opted out shark fin..save the shark..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Commendable! I know it's ingrained in Chinese culture so it's a big step you're making. The ocean and our children thank you. :-)

      Delete
  2. A shameless, blatant show of one's opulence. Vanity at its worst! Senseless flaunting of wealth - for the mere sake of showing off. Ain;t that some kind of sick mentality? And those things are, in fact, quite tasteless. Stupid is as stupid does.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your support Suituapui!

      Delete
  3. i've transitioned over the years to eating only "fake shark fin" soup. the imitation shark fins, made purely from gelatin, seem like the ideal, guiltless substitute for those of us who do enjoy the flavor of this soup recipe but also have no desire to be contributing to the shark fin industry...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That does sound like the ideal compromise. As cartilage is flavourless, it makes sense to just insert a substitute with similar texture.

      Delete
  4. I skipped shark fin for many years and hubby follow too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's very heartening to hear about people who have been accustomed to eating shark's fin, pause and reevaluate, and make positive change.

      Delete
  5. It was heartbreaking watching that video, I just had to stop after 60 seconds. I think you've made a very good choice in rejecting restaurants who sell shark fin soup!
    Duncan In Kuantan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your support and here's to making the world a better place one meal at a time. :-)

      Delete
  6. This is a fantastic goal for 2013! I've always shunned Shark's Fin Soup, and hope that more people will come to understand the cruelty involved in this barbaric practice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great goal to have! Too many bad movies have made out for us to think that sharks only purpose in life is to hunt us humans to kill, when in fact it seems to be the other way round! I am in full support!

      Delete
    2. Pablo, you've reminded me of an animation Shark's Savers has produced about the likeliness of us being killed by a shark compared to other things such as motor accidents. We are more likely to be struck by lightning or killed by a mass murderer than eaten by a shark!

      Delete
  7. Killing chicken and fishing for food is also cruel. Maybe, there isn't the problem of sustainability here, especially with the chicken. But how about fish? Is there a problem with over-fishing here too - not talking about sharks of course? Is there no why of harvesting shark fins in a way that does not also kill the sharks eventually? How about foie gras? I have heard the way ducks are speed fatten so that you could enjoy this decadence is cruel, and the devil Gordan is also against foie gras? Between foie gras and shark fin soup, I'll go for the latter, anyway. Rather then outright shark fins paranoia, is there a compromise?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good points Ordinary Malaysian. You've raised what most people don't understand. Yes, finning is cruel and an unkind act (as is the production of foie gras), however the grander problem with shark's finning is the gross overfishing that it has created. Because the fins are much more valuable in most parts of the world, only the fins are kept and the shark's returned to the sea. So, essentially instead of one animal feeding numerous people it only ends up feeding a few - not an efficient use of our resources. This causes further problems with the shark playing such an important role in our marine ecosystem. Sharks clean the oceans and keep the delicate food chain in balance. Malaysia already sees the delicate system out of balance with the abundance of jelly fish witnessed in places such as Langkawi and Penang. With their natural predators such as turtles and sharks in rapid decline, there is no natural control of the jellyfish population. The point of publicly stating that we won't eat shark's fin is to raise awareness of the larger issue and create conversation (which it has done quite successfully!). Great ideas like yours start coming out such as developing technology to harvest or finding other solutions. I appreciate the time you took in writing a response. It's through open discussion and expression of all opinions that change occurs. Again, sincere thanks for being frank.

      Delete
  8. Good for you. I aim to join you in this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's to a better future for all!

      Delete
  9. None of us have had or ever will have shark fin soup. So incredibly sad. Thanks Yum List for raising awareness and taking a stand.

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's time we make a stand on this and to create more awareness on the cruelty behind this shark fin business!

    ReplyDelete

Share it