New York Bans Sale of Shark Fins, But They're Still on the Menu in Houston

dryingsharkfins.jpg
Photo by Nicholas Wang
On Friday, July 26, the state of New York became the eighth U.S. state to ban the sale of shark fins in an effort to protect the world's sharks. Last May, a bill to ban shark fin trade in Texas died in the Senate, but due to increasing awareness about the cruelty of shark finning as well as the expense of making the Chinese delicacy shark fin soup, many Texas restaurants are taking shark fin soup off their menus.

Shark fin soup, often served at Chinese weddings and banquets as a symbol of wealth and prosperity, is controversial due to the often inhumane way in which shark fins are obtained. Because the fins are the most useful part of the shark, hunters will catch a shark, cut off all its fins, then release it back into the ocean still alive, where, unable to move, it will die a slow, painful death from blood loss, suffocation or starvation. Releasing the sharks frees up space on the fishing vessels for more fins.

Shark finning is one reason for the rapid decline in shark populations. Sharks are slow to mature and do not reproduce as often or have as many young as other sea creatures, so killing sharks can have a large impact on the population. Other people are less concerned with the environmental impact of shark finning and take greater issue with the morality of cutting off an animal's limbs and leaving it to die.

The U.S. protects sharks from finning with the Shark Conservation Act (introduced by John Kerry in 2009), which prohibits any vessels from carrying more shark fins than carcasses. Additionally, all sharks must be brought to port with their fins still attached. Several states have outlawed the sale or trade of shark fins entirely, as New York did last week, but in Texas, shark fin soup is still legal, for now. And it's available right here in Houston.

Shark_finning_diagram.jpg
Photo by Grolltech
The Humane Society of the United States' Texas director, Katie Jarl, has been very outspoken about the organization's disapproval of the shark fin trade in Texas, and she worked on the bill to ban the sale and trade of shark fins in Texas.

"The fins caught off the Gulf Coast aren't going directly into local Chinese restaurants," Jarl explains. "What fishermen are doing is bagging up the fins and shipping them internationally, most likely to China, where they've already overfished sharks. In Texas, by allowing the sale and trade of shark fins, we are directly contributing to the global decimation of sharks worldwide."

Jarl also noted that when the failed bill was first proposed, not a single restaurant or supplier came out in opposition to it. Even the owners of Chinese restaurants and catering companies who are the usual producers of shark fin soup were mum on the subject. She said Landry's voiced its approval of the bill, telling her it understands the seafood business depends upon maintaining a balanced ecosystem, and sharks are an important part of that.

The Humane Society was able to provide us with a list of Texas restaurants that still serve shark fin soup, though Jarl notes that many restaurants won't admit to it, even though it's still completely legal in Texas. The dish has become so taboo that no one wants to talk about it. We did some sleuthing of our own and found some additional restaurants that continue to prepare the controversial dish. Some places we called admitted that customers rarely order the expensive soup, so they've considered removing it from the menu. For now, though, it seems shark fin soup is here to stay.

My Voice Nation Help
27 comments
Matt Shelton
Matt Shelton

It's atrociously cruel. Sorry to use this language, but fuck you if you get shark fins. It's an incredibly inhumane and antiquated practice and those that condone it can remove themselves from this planet. Shark fin poachers and purchasers...I hope you have your arms cut off and thrown in an ocean. See how you like it

Schittphaiç Magü
Schittphaiç Magü

I always hear about how emotionally deranged and sheltered from reality some people are, but I try to ignore it. Then I witness more faux outrage from the Moral Butthurt Brigade, and I have no other choice.

Adrienne Byard
Adrienne Byard

I always hear about how unintelligent and sheltered from decency some people are, but I don't want to believe it. Then I read HP comments, and I believe.

Steph Kyle
Steph Kyle

Shark finning is a horrendous market and I wouldn't eat shark fin soup any sooner than I would eat sea turtle eggs. Sharks are a desperately important piece of our Gulf ecosystem. If people are finning to a level that it is having a negative impact on our local waters, then ban it.

Stephen Nowakowski
Stephen Nowakowski

The City of Houston or better Harris County should take a stand today. There is no reason shark fin should be sold or consumed here.

Danny Neumann
Danny Neumann

Just because you don't want to destroy finite, shared global resources means NO ONE is allowed to destroy finite, shared global resources. Typical liberal thinking.

metatronarchetype
metatronarchetype

Thanks for providing a list of restaurants that anyone possessing even a shred of decency should boycott.

Steven Perry
Steven Perry

i.... BWAHAHAHA! i don't even know where to start, man. there's literally nothing i can say to you. i mean- i WANT to, but i mean- you're far too gone. i hope you have a long fulfilling life and none of this dickishness comes back to bite you in the bum.

Eric Dellafave
Eric Dellafave

So because you don't like it, means that NO ONE is allowed to like it. Typical Liberal thinking.

Chris Kalish
Chris Kalish

OMG havent any of yall seen Sharknado? It started cause of them harvesting shark fins. BAN THAT SHIT!

T.j. Dubz
T.j. Dubz

They should absolutely be banned in Texas.

Jordan Paul Smith
Jordan Paul Smith

It's a cruel practice. It would be one thing if the entire shark were killed and eaten, but instead the fin is simply cut off and the shark is released. It is akin to using a bison just for the hide and leaving the rest to rot, only in this case the bison would be left alive to suffer a slow and agonizing death.

Steven Perry
Steven Perry

Stuff apparently is bland anyway. I have no desire to try it. Shut this act down, Houston.

texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

Meanwhile overheard in a trendy hipster Houston restaurant: 


"hey, could you pass the anal fin please.........:"


itstdl
itstdl

the Texas legislature should pass the bill banning the sale of these fins.  this is just disgustingly inhumane.  Texas sport fishing laws were recently changed to protect sharks.  seems to me the commercial fishing industry should follow suit.  as for the restaurants that continue serving this "delicacy"....     keep the pressure on and vote with your wallet at restaurants that don't serve the soup.     shark populations off of china really are decimated.  it would be a shame to see the same thing along our gulf coast.        

Now Trending

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

Loading...