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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

MUGA Day #11: Bangkok: Saying No to Shark Fin

I've been eating too well on this trip that my conscience finally got to me.  There is an art show here in Bangkok entitled 100% Shark sponsored by Fin Free Thailand.  For those new to this matter, I've of course expounded on this issue numerous times, including very recently, and also only a month ago, where I reported that sharks kill, oh, five of us each year, but we decimate up to 100 million of them.  Of course, it can be worse, as the world consumes 50 billion chickens/year...and how many them are known to murder a human?  Well, there is that avian flu appearing to be returning in China, but blame the virus.

Why do we kill so many sharks?  Shark fin soup! It is a delicacy in China (and any Chinese community) and provided to impress guests.  A major business deal is a typical occasion.  It is a must at many weddings and an 80-year old birthday party.  At one time only emperors and nobles could afford this extravagance.  Now, many more citizens can.

There could be up to eight fins on one shark:


Bet these are the largest ones you've ever seen.  For fishermen, compare less than a buck per pound for the average catch versus $50/pound for dried fin.  High quality fins are purchased by the best restaurants for $1000/pound.  But there is very little taste, for it is in the "mouthing" or texture of the collagen, and the psychological value of added virility.  Culture, symbolism and profit are difficult to abandon.  Consider religion, for example.

However, major state dinners in China are now beginning to avoid this soup, and both Yao Ming (basketball) and Ang Lee (film director) have joined the anti-forces.  Take the pledge:


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