On not eating shark’s fin

European Union ministers are demanding urgent action to protect sharks in European waters, because a third of shark species are endangered because of chronic overfishing.   It’s easy  to guess who the main culprits are – lovers of shark’s fin soup, most of them, I assume, Chinese. I’ve been avoiding shark’s fin on my trips to China for the last couple of years for environmental reasons. But I do sometimes wonder whether this is pure tokenism: I mean, almost all the fish and other seafood one eats nowadays is from threatened species, and if we carry on as we do now, there won’t be any left (have a look at this chilling article by Andrew Purvis in yesterday’s Observer Food Monthly). What’s the point of not eating shark’s fin a few times a year if I’m still eating oysters, cod and wild sea bass? Isn’t it just a silly sop to my conscience, a way of feeling good and pretending I’m doing the right thing, when I’m overexploiting the planet like everyone else? (I’ve always thought it ridiculous that people should object to the cruelty of fox-hunting when they eat factory farmed meat and cheap clothes made by child labour for similar reasons. )  On the other hand, I suppose one does have to start somewhere…

2 Responses to “On not eating shark’s fin”

  1. James

    The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood watch is an excellent resource in the United States. Not only does it list fish to avoid, but it provides alternatives.

  2. Thom Mitchell

    Exactly, start somewhere. FYI, eating Oysters actually helps to clean the ocean because of the role they play in the ecosystem. Also by eating them and supporting local auqaculture you provide funding to grow more oysters.
    http://www.rhodyoysters.com/index.html

    This is also true of heirloom breeds – you have to eat heirloom meats in order to save them.

    By the way – absolutely love your books. When’s your next one coming out? We could something from them at least once a week. Thank you.

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