Tuesday, March 22

IS BANNING SHARK FIN SOUP RACIST?

Sandbar Shark image courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Program.

"Globally, we've reached the point at which the collapse of an ecosystem has to take precedence over one culture's culinary heritage. No matter who the primary 'market' is, overconsumption is taking sharks -- and bluefin tuna, and Atlantic cod, and hundreds of other species -- away from all of us, and we all have a right to demand action. The situation is becoming drastic, and drastic, across-the-board bans are warranted." -- SF Weekly's Jon Kauffman.

Three Western states are on the verge of banning shark fin soup. The fines will be stiff, the penalties harsh, even for first time offenders. Proponents of the legislation point to the inhumane way fins are harvested, as well as a depleting population of sharks (73 million killed per year), which will have unprecedented (and largely unknown) effects on underwater ecosystems. Opponents of the ban on shark fins say it's racist; lawmakers are posturing and targeting a food associated with Asian populations, but not targeting other overfished species enjoyed by larger voting constituencies. Click here to read the Salon article for more information on this issue.

What do you think? When does one's right to enjoy their own culinary heritage outweigh the importance of a community's ecosystem, or is that ever the case?