Shark fin soup

Written by Jane Harris No Gravatar

Having taken the newly opened 160 km/h train from Suvarnabhumi airport into the centre of Bangkok, at a price of just under a pound a person, we headed straight for Chinatown. We’d splashed out on three nights at the Shanghai Mansion, a 1930s styled boutique hotel built on the site of a former Chinese opera house. It didn’t disappoint. The six story building is richly decorated with oriental wallpapers fabrics, tiles and glass and even incorporates a small jazz bar. Definitely our most luxurious residence to date. But no sooner had we dropped off our bags than we were out again.

The reason? The streets here are full of life – the hubbub of the traffic, the colour of the lanterns strung across the road in readiness for next week’s Chinese new year celebrations, the bustle of traders selling plastic in every conceivable shape and size … and food, so much food. This is a glutton’s heaven.

But something bothers me. You will know from Stu’s last post that we are just back from a few days diving in the Similan Islands. It wasn’t my first trip to the Andaman Sea – I was there seven years ago – but this time something was different. Last time we were rewarded with multiple shark sightings on almost every dive – leopard sharks, nurse sharks, white and black tips. This time there were none. Not a single sighting. A walk around Chinatown quickly reveals the reason why – shark fin soup.

A bit of research shows that shark fin soup has been considered a delicacy since the Ming dynasty. With the sudden increase in Asian prosperity it is now being consumed in vast quantities, placing a crippling and unsustainable demand on shark populations. Fishermen take the fins from sharks whenever they can find them – throwing the sharks straight back in the water to die a long and painful death. Organisations such as actively campaign for a worldwide ban on shark finning – a ban I would strongly support.

One Response to “Shark fin soup”

  1. JillNo Gravatar says:

    Luckily, the shark population now has Gordon Ramsey on side. He’s just done an exposé of the shark fin soup industry on C4. The programe had good intentions but it’s not often you watch a show and hope that the ‘baddies’ will actually catch up with the ‘investigative journalist’ and give him a good a battering. Either that or that the sharks he very smugly swam with at the end of the show would take a chunk out of him. Good programme, wrong presenter.

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