April 18, 2013
We Say "No" to Shark Fin
Recently we were contacted by a constituent who, along with his Asian Australian fiancée and her mother, decided to stop eating shark fin. Liam provided contact information for restaurants in his area that were serving shark fin dishes, and HSI sent letters to those establishments, requesting that they remove the items from their menus.
We were heartened by the couple's support, and he agreed to chat with us about how they came to their decision to join the global movement to help protect sharks.
HSI: I understand that you have a connection to Chinese food culture? Could you explain briefly?
Liam: My connection to Chinese food culture is through my fiancée. She was born in Malaysia and moved to Australia with her family when she was six months old. Her parents, brother, grandparents on both sides and a couple of aunts and uncles now live in Australia. We are very close to all the family, both those here and those back in Malaysia, whom we visit yearly.
HSI: What influenced your decision to stop consuming shark fin soup?
Liam: While I had read a little bit of information regarding shark finning prior to meeting my partner, I never thought about it too much. A few times while out having a banquet for one celebration or another, my partner’s mother would mention to us that she would not be having the soup as she did not agree with the way in which it was sourced. Even after hearing this it had little impact on me—I just didn’t take on board how cruel the methods really are.
HSI: It may be easy for some people to miss the importance of protecting sharks because the plight of the animals is often not in plain sight. How did you learn about our campaign to end shark finning (and/or say no to shark fin soup)?
Liam: After something popped up in my newsfeed on Facebook a few months ago, I had a look at your website, and reading about the number of sharks killed each year in such a cruel manner—left to drown—shocked me. An unbelievable number of sharks are left to die so that we can eat a tasteless fin with no real nutritional value. The image of thousands of fins laying there hit home and after having a chat with my partner and her mother, we decided we would not be consuming this product in the future.
HSI: We were very encouraged to hear that your fiancée’s mother had first alerted you to the cruelty of shark finning. In our experience, the older generation tends to be more resistant to changes in eating habits than younger generations. Could you elaborate on how she came to the decision to stop consuming shark fin?
Liam: As you know, shark fin is a delicacy that the Chinese (and other Asians) enjoy. My fiancée's mother grew up with it being served in Chinese restaurants. It was (and I believe still is) a very popular dish in Malaysia, though I have heard that some restaurants in Malaysia have stopped serving it.
My fiancée's mother had heard about the way the fin is harvested but it only really hit home when she was watching a documentary on shark finning and she realized how cruel it was to the sharks. It was quite a gruesome sight and since that day (probably about six or seven years ago), she has not eaten any dish that is purported to contain shark fin.