Saturday, January 7, 2012

Stop eating Sharks and shark's fins

I think food for human is the priority in world agenda, stable supply to meet the needs of human population is important. Animals had been one of the food chains for human since historical days. Some may said man was basically a vegetarian, and not meat eater in the earliest days. But animal protein is still important source since historical days.

Food, shortage of food, is the urgent agenda for the world today, there are many human beings died of hunger in this earth. But ironically there are many human beings who are overfed, and actually they are resulting in food wastage. This is the ugly picture of society today.

If a man is facing hunger, I do not mind he eat dog if that was only food available. I am not against dog eater, like chicken, beef, mutton, dog meat has been food for many Asian countries, Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, China, Burma etc, since historical days. It is normal just like eating chicken...the animal was prepared as food in that societies as source of protein. How can we stop them eating dog meat?. If you stop them, it is cruel to human, instead of the dogs...moreover dogs are not facing extinction problem. It was their culture and their stable source of food. However if you are not culturally a dog eater, then do not start it.

We are facing the dilemma of human right for food, and animal right for humanization...we cannot go like animal right extremist who go all ways to protect animal right and forget about human right. They dressed dogs like human, deprived the dogs the right to be a dog, an animal...and forced dogs to be like human....animal just need to live like animal. Behind all these movement, there are resources channeled to the rich pet food industry, pet business sector. When human being still died of hunger....

But shark is different, shark meat is luxurious food items, and sharks are wild animals not commonly prepared for human foods, it was only food items for exceptionally few who are rich and overfed, who want something exotic...we can go without eating them. Sharks' population is now going to a danger level of extinction... this apply also to Whale meat eating....

It is the protection of sharks and whales for our future generation....much more than food problems... Whales and Sharks are killed for meats and fins...and even for sport....

Killing of sharks is also not only shark fins eating problems, there are also shark meat eating in Japan, in Europe, in Australia. It is not only typical Chinese problem, it is rich man's problem, it is problem of supply and demand, it is a world problem......and similarly there is also problem of killing of whales by other communities....

Today, we are only talking about shark fins....

Shark fisheries

The majority of shark fisheries have little monitoring or management. The rise in demand for shark products increases pressure on fisheries. Major declines in shark stocks have been recorded—some species have been depleted by over 90% over the past 20–30 years with population declines of 70% not unusual. Many governments and the UN have acknowledged the need for shark fisheries management, but little progress has been made due to their low economic value, the small volumes of products produced and sharks' poor public image.

On the IUCN red list there are 39 species of elasmobranches (sharks and rays) listed as threatened species (Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable). CITES lists three sharks in Appendix II: the basking shark, the great white shark, and the whale shark. Appendix II lists those species that are not in danger of extinction, but which require controls on international trade to maintain their populations. It is estimated that 10–100 million sharks are slaughtered each year for their fins with a median figure of 38 million. The industry is valued at US$1.2 billion; because of the lucrative profits, there are allegations of links to organized crime. They also raise questions on the medical harm from the consumption of high levels of toxic mercury reportedly found in shark fins.

It is estimated that 100 million sharks are killed by people every year, due to commercial and recreational fishing. Sharks are a common seafood in many places, including Japan and Australia. In the Australian state of Victoria, shark is the most commonly used fish in fish and chips, in which fillets are battered and deep-fried or crumbed and grilled. In fish and chip shops, shark is called flake. In India, small sharks or baby sharks (called sora in Tamil language, Telugu language) are sold in local markets. Since the flesh is not developed, cooking the flesh breaks it into powder, which is then fried in oil and spices (called sora puttu/sora poratu). The soft bones can be easily chewed. They are considered a delicacy in coastal Tamil Nadu. Icelanders ferment Greenland sharks to produce hákarl, which is widely regarded as a national dish.

Let us take the opportunity of coming Chinese New Year to talk about shark fins. Eating shark fins had been long time since historical days, but there was no problem of shark extinction, it was a rare exotic food only for minority of people. But the scenario is different today, it has become a popular exotic food...

But still remember killing of sharks is not only shark fins eating, but also shark meat eating; it is not only Chinese problem, it is also Japanese, it is also European problem, it is the world problem. But being contributor of the problem, Chinese should stop eating shark fins.... to contribute positively the conservation of shark population.

Shark fins

Stop eating shark’s fins from this New Year

Shark’s fins soup is popular today. It is a popular soup item of Chinese cuisine usually served at special occasions such as weddings and banquets, or as a luxury item in business dinner or government official functions. It was rare seafood item only for emperor’s cuisine or rich people in the old days. The consumptions was not high, as supplies was limited. But with the advance in transportation, supplies can now easily obtained from Spain, South America and anywhere in the world. The supplies and consumptions increase not only due to high demand, but also the high price for supplies of the shark’s fins. Fins were used to obtain from dead sharks, but in view of the extreme high price for the fins, much higher than the shark meat. Shark fins are now obtained from lived sharks just for their fins, and the shark are throw back into the seawater, most finless sharks are not able to survive long in the sea. This has drastically and adversely affect the number of the sharks in the world. The market for shark fins are in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South East Asia countries, and many Chinese restaurants around the world.

Shark fins soup is not a must item for normal dinners, but it is a regular item in special occasions, like wedding and banquets. We cannot denied that Shark’s fins soup had been around since Ming Dynasty, some said it was started from Admiral Cheng Ho. May be during his expeditions oversea, traveled in the seas for days and months, seafood like shark fins become one of the sailors items. It may not be a luxurious item In their food during the sailing days, it was for survival in the sea. The food item may had introduced to the Chinese people when they landed in the Chinese ports, and it become a popular food item. But due to its difficulties in supplies, it was a highly priced item, not many people can afford to eat it. It become an affluent food item, only royalties and rich families can afford to eat it. It slowly evolved to become a food symbol of richness and success.

History of Shark Fins eating

Shark fin soup dates back to China's Ming Dynasty. The popularity of shark fin soup rose in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as standards of living began to improve. The delicacy was coveted by emperors because it was rare, delicious, and required elaborate preparation. Holding both culinary and symbolic significance, the dish is popular at important occasions such as weddings, banquets, and important business deals. It symbolizes wealth, power, prestige and honor. This staple of gourmet Chinese cuisine is a show of respect, honor, and appreciation to the guests


Genuine shark fin soup or stew is made with shark fins obtained from any of a variety of shark species. Raw shark fins are processed by first removing the skin, trimming them to shape, and thoroughly drying them. Hydrogen peroxide may be used before drying to make their colour more appealing.

Shark fins are the cartilaginous pectoral and dorsal fins of a shark. Sharks' fins are sold in two forms: frozen and dried. Both need to be softened before they can be used to prepare soup. The frozen form is ready to use, as it has been prepared and therefore only requires about an hour or two of soaking.

There are two types of the dried form, skinned (shredded) and whole, which requires more preparation

Nutritional Content

Vitamin content of typical shark fin soup is much less than that of typical vegetable soup, containing almost no vitamin A. However, it contains slightly more iron, zinc, riboflavin, and phosphorus than normal vegetable soup. If consumed in extremely large quantities, shark fin soup may cause sterility in men due to mercury content. ( Watch out for shark fin soup,

The FDA recommends pregnant women and young children avoid eating shark fins.

The nutritional content of Shark fin (100 grams)
Energy of 350 kcal, protein 84.1 g, fat 0.5 g, carbohydrates 2.3 grams, 0.01 mg thiamine, riboflavin 0.02 mg, 252 mg of calcium, phosphorus 115 mg, 226 mg of potassium, sodium 79.6 mg, 10.9 mg iodine, Magnesium 17 mg, iron 5.1 mg, 2.25 mg of zinc, selenium 72.46 mcg, Copper 0.04 mg Manganese 0.09 mg.

Shark fin which protein containing about 80%, also contains fat, carbohydrates and other minerals. Shark fin may be luxurious sea food in Chinese cuisine, but the nutritional value is actually not very high. This is because the protein contained in Shark fin, is lacking an essential amino acid (tryptophan), and is not a complete protein.

The nutritional value of Shark fin:
1. Shark fin with lipid-lowering, anti-arteriosclerosis and anticoagulant content on the effectiveness of prevention and treatment of cardiovascular system diseases.
2. Shark fin is rich in collagen, but the protein is not entirely protein, should be cooked with meat, chicken, duck, shrimp were cooked in order to achieve the complementary proteins, but also conferred by fresh taste can nourish, Soft skin.
3. One of the useful content in shark fin is cartilage or cartilage, which is believed capable of improving immunity and preventing cancer. Just like shark fins, chicken feet also contain a lot of cartilage to coat joints, which is much cheaper and breed commercially.

Demand and Consumptions
Sharks are often killed for shark fin soup. Shark fin soup is a status symbol in Asian countries, and is considered healthy and full of nutrients. Fishermen capture live sharks, fin them, and dump the finless animal back into the water. Shark finning involves removing the fin with a hot metal blade. The resulting immobile shark soon dies from suffocation or predators. Shark fin has become a major trade within black markets all over the world. Fins sell for about $300/lb in 2009. Poachers illegally fin millions each year. Few governments enforce laws that protect them. Consumption of shark fin soup has risen dramatically with the middle class becoming more affluent, as Chinese communities around the world enjoy increasing income levels. Environmental groups claim that finning has caused decline of shark species, which, as top predators in the ocean, are essential to the stability of oceanic ecosystems. Fishing fleets catch an estimated 70 million sharks a year as of 2010.
Now with the economic success of China, there are many rich Chineses who consumed shark fins more frequently in their dinners and banquets.
Sharks are also killed for meat. European diners consume dogfishes, smoothhounds, catsharks, makos, porbeagle and also skates and rays.

Supply - Shark finning

Shark finning refers to the removal and retention of shark fins and the discarding of the rest of the fish. Shark finning takes place at sea so the fishers only have to transport the fins
On September 15, 2007, Malaysia's Natural Resources and Environment Ministry Azmi Khalid banned shark's fin soup from official functions committing to the Malaysian Nature Society (for conservation of shark species).

Sharks belong to the scientific class Chondrichthyes, or jawed fish with cartilage skeletons. Using their body and tail in a side-to-side movement, sharks move through water using fins for steering, stabilization, propulsion and thrust. Supported by cartilage, shark fins are rigid rather than flexible. In the shark family, there are five different types of fins, each with its own purpose. Sharks, as all fish, use their body and tail in a side to side motion to move through the water. Shark fins are rigid not flexible, and are supported by rods made of cartilage. Sharks have five different kinds of fins.
(i) Paired pectoral fins lift the shark as it swims.

(ii) Paired pelvic fins stabilize the shark.

(iii) One or two dorsal fins also stabilize the shark. In some species, dorsal fins have spines.

(iv) Not all sharks have an anal fin, but it provides stability for the sharks that do have one.

(v) The caudal or tail fin moves the shark forward.

It is high time to stop eating shark’s fin soup, especially during Chinese New Year Reunion dinner and wedding dinner.

Opposition voices
Tommy Cheung, the legislator representing Hong Kong's catering sector, said: "I don't believe sharks are an endangered species. Some species of shark may be, but not all shark's fin comes from certain species. There are a lot of species that are plentiful." There is no reliable count for the numbers taken in the shark fin trade and thus it is hard to prove the claims on either side of the argument.
However, research has shown that the vast majority of shark species are gaining in population and not endangered; CITES lists only 3 out of 400 species as needing protection. Furthermore, shark finning contributes to a small proportion of sharks caught worldwide; most sharks are caught in European nations as bycatch, for sport, or for their meat. As a result, the movement against shark fins have been variously described as misled, reliant on populist rhetoric, or Sinophobic.

According to Giam's article, "sharks are caught virtually all parts of the world. Despite the strongly declared objectives of the Fisheries Commission in Brussels, there are very few restrictions on fishing for sharks in European waters. The meat of dogfishes, smoothhounds, cat sharks, skates and rays is in high demand by European consumers...The situation in Canada and the United States is similar: the blue shark is sought after as a sport fish while the porbeagle, mako and spiny dogfish are part of the commercial fishery...the truth is this: Sharks will continue to be caught and killed on a wide scale by the more organized and sophisticated fishing nations...targeting shark's fin soup will not stop this accidental catch. The fins from these catches will be thrown away or turned into animal feed and fertilizers if shark's fin soup is shunned."

However, the U.S. FDA lists sharks as one of four fish (with swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish) whose high mercury content is hazardous to children and pregnant women.

Shark finning is cruel, and shark finning should be banned. Shark fins should only be obtained from dead fishes, not lived sharks. Better to stop eating shark related food to stop the demand and the ultimately the sharks killings, either for shark fins or for shark meats.

We should stop eating shark’s fins during Chinese New Year 2012, and start campaigns to stop consuming shark’s fins soup, and to help the survival of the sharks’ population. By eating shark’s fins, we are helping to increase the demand.....let us stop it.

Say No to Shark Fins Soup, and a happy Chinese New Year for Sharks, for all human, and the world....

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