New legislation could ban traditional Chinese ingredient shark fin

Shark fin soup is a symbol of wealth and prosperity in Chinese culture.

New York City lawmakers are sinking their teeth into a hot debate over shark fins.

Legislation proposed Tuesday would make it illegal to posses shark fins in New York state. Flushing Assemblywoman Grace Meng co-wrote the bill, saying sharks are rapidly disappearing as they’re brutally slaughtered.

Shark fin is a traditional ingredient in Chinese cooking and right now, more than fifty restaurants in New York City serve up the controversial ingredient. It’s typically found in shark fin soup, which can command anywhere from $35 and $100 per bowl.

“As a Chinese-American in New York, there are few symbols of greater wealth and prosperity than shark fin,” said Meng. “That being said, just because something has been a tradition, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right.”

More than 100 million sharks a year are killed for their fins, according to Oceana, an international organization aimed at ocean protection. In international waters, shark fishers will often pull the animal on board and slice its fin while it’s still alive before tossing it back into the ocean to drown. U.S. law prohibits finning at sea — the shark must be brought back to port to be processed.

“It’s an important part of culture, but it is something that is very cruel,” said Meng.

All types of sharks are targeted, though some species, like whale sharks and hammerheads, are more valuable than others.

Shark fin soup is not an everyday ingredient in Chinese culture and is traditionally served by the wealthy. Though the dish isn’t as popular among younger generations of Chinese-Americans, it is often a staple at functions like weddings.  

“If there’s no shark fin, they’ll maybe have to pick another option, like watercress,” said Melissa Chen who works at Jin Fong, a Chinatown banquet hall that serves several varieties of shark fin soup.

Chen said she didn’t think her customers would be too disappointed if shark fin was no longer available and some other Chinese restaurants, like Bo Wing Hong, have already begun phasing the ingredient off their menus.

Nearly 14,000 pounds of shark fin valuing $685,747 was imported into New
York in 2011, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service.

If the legislation is approved, restaurant owners and other consumers
would have one year to use the shark fins they already have. After that,
possessing shark fins could lead to thousands of dollars in fines and
up to 15 days behind bars. California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington
have already enacted similar legislation.


Could a shark fin ban translate to elite popularity?

Sometimes a publicized controversy over food, such as over foie gras and bluefin tuna, can actually boost its popularity among diners looking to savor a taste of something exotic or elite, one food expert says.

Conrad Saam, vice president of marketing for Urbanspoon, cited Chef Ludo Lefebvre, of LudoBites fame on the West Coast. An anti-foie gras protest outside his restaurant spurred a bevvy of foodies looking to sample the ingredient in question.

“This is a microcosm of what happens in the market,” Saam told Metro. “Protests drive awareness which in turns drives demand.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Newest java joint in bastion of hipness is…

Little may represent the change the neighborhood is undergoing right now like the arrival of the first Starbucks. The chain which is ubiquitous in Manhattan, opened a Williamsburg store at…

National

Black and white are the new orange at…

By Brendan O'Brien(Reuters) - Black and white are the new orange in a Michigan county where the sheriff has made a wardrobe change for jail…

National

Traps set after reports of giant snake on…

New Jersey animal control workers have set traps to snare a reported 20-foot-long serpent slithering through the waters of Lake Hopatcong.

Local

NYPD: Stroller carrying 2-year-old rolls onto Queens subway…

A 2-year-old girl in a stroller rolled onto subway tracks in Queens on Monday morning, police said.

Entertainment

‘The Leftovers’ recap: Season 1, Episode 4, ‘B.J.…

Last week’s episode of “The Leftovers” was apparently a fluke, because this week’s episode returns to focusing on the Garveys and it is so boring.…

Movies

Interview: Luc Besson says 'Lucy' is very different…

Filmmaker Luc Besson talks about his new film "Lucy," how it's different than "Limitless" and his crazy first conversation with Egyptian actor Amr Waked.

Music

Weezer releases first new song since 2010

Weezer releases "Back to the Shack," their first new song in almost six years.

Movies

Benedict Cumberbatch plays a different kind of genius…

The man known worldwide for his portrayal of London's eccentric private detective Sherlock Holmes is trading his Belstaff coat for tweed this fall. Benedict Cumberbatch…

NFL

'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.

MLB

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according…

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according to report

NFL

Giants lineman Chris Snee to retire: Reports

The Giants report to training camp on Tuesday, but Chris Snee may not be there when they do.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony talks about his charity work in…

As he is used to doing every year, NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony is going to visit Puerto Rico to do work for his foundation.

Tech

RocketSkates let users roll with a motor

Los Angeles company Acton has raised funds on Kickstarter to roll out a nifty alternative – motor-powered "RocketSkates."

Tech

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony becomes a tech entrepreneur

He's been an All-Star, an Olympian, and a celebrity spokesperson. Now NBA player Carmelo Anthony is adding the position "tech entrepreneur" to his resume. Along…

Tech

Ulises 1 is the world's first singing satellite

A group of artists and engineers in Mexico have unveiled Ulises 1, the world's first opera-singing satellite.

Home

Wallscape on a budget

Skip the wallpaper and ombre an accent wall instead.