David's post keeps on giving!
Check out the comment by KT Tan at the end of the comments thread.
I'm being told that KT is a well known troll in the Asian press, and I should really not be feeding him - but his comments echo those by Carlie Lim of the HK Shark fin traders' association, and even those by the infamous Giam of CITES. It's crafty stuff that latches on to the bullshit propagated by what Sam calls verbose, passionate, on-line activists, and it cleverly mixes fact & fiction to weave a narrative of western imperialism and disrespect of Chinese culture.
Are we just gonna let it stand?
But worry not - I'm not gonna be suckered into feeding the troll.
Yes of course he is right about the bloody unhelpful generalization and hyperbole by the sharktivist fringe - but then comes a whole list of disinformation and rhetoric that has been brilliantly addressed and thoroughly debunked by Shark Savers here and here, so I really need not rack my brain for further clever rebuttals.
Where I want to go with this post is somewhere else.
Tan states the following
Ultimately, the moral/ethical question that arises is this : Should we eat shark’s fin soup at all?
My answer is that we should not if sharks are an endangered species, just like we do not eat whales, dolphins, tigers, elephants. bears, white sturgeons, snow leopard or panda bears etc.
Yup, and apart from not eating them, we should also not bloody buy products resulting from the poaching of endangered Tigers, Rhino, Bears and Elephants - right?
And since we're at it.
What about the bile of tortured Bears, or the meat of tortured or inhumanely killed cattle; or blood diamonds and gold that finance civil wars and genocide - and this irrespective of whether they were "legally" obtained from some murderous dictator or his militia! Or cocoa (= chocolate) and garments produced by child labor or in sweat shops - and this irrespective of whether child labor and sweat shops are being tolerated in the country of provenience! Or coffee and bananas where the growers are not getting a fair price - and this irrespective of whether the middlemen have purchased them legally! Or the products of the drug cartels - and the list goes on and on and on!
See where this is leading?
So what about those fins.
Yes the 500-odd Sharks are not all endangered - but it just so happens that the majority of the species whose fins are being traded are!
And let there also be no doubt that the only legitimate organization that assesses whether a Shark is threatened is the IUCN!
Certainly not CITES that is a politically and economically driven trade organization where several predominantly Asian countries have successfully prevented the listing of Sharks, this by "convincing" a minority to block the vote of a majority, very much like many predominantly Asian countries are undermining the decision making process within the RFMOs and using development aid to then go and reap and pillage in distant countries!
The facts are crystal clear.
Most Shark fisheries are being badly managed or not managed at all, and whereas it is correct to demand that the relevant countries must enact better management measures, it is never-the less equally correct to state that as long as they don't, one should not buy those fins. The same applies to fins that have been poached, or that have been traded through criminal cartels, or purchased from greedy middle men who cheat the fishermen - those fins should even be declared to be illegal. And the same definitely applies to fins that come from Sharks that have been cruelly finned, and from Sharks that are endangered!
That's got nothing to do with cultural discrimination - those are just the perfectly ordinary and increasingly stringent ethical guidelines of any trade, see the examples above!
And yet, the Shark fin trade remains completely non-transparent and unmonitored - to the point that one can easily purchase fins of GWs, and that shops and restaurants proudly display fins of Whale Sharks that have been obviously poached and traded in contravention of CITES Appendix II!
As long as that is the case, that trade needs to be boycotted - and where necessary, especially when there are criminal elements in play, it is perfectly legitimate that the authorities intervene with legislative bans!
Any good news for the traders?
Yes: there exist well managed and perfectly legal Shark fisheries!
I see no reason whatsoever why the fins from those legal and sometimes even reputable food fisheries for Dogfish, Thresher, Mako or the Sharks that aliment the appetite for flake should not be used for that soup!
Have those fins certified, document their provenience, brand them as sustainable and you may even succeed in selling them at a premium, much like, say, pole-caught Skipjack!
So here's the deal.
Prove that you're not exploiting poor fishermen or developing nations that don't have the means to properly manage Sharks and/or enforce their own laws; prove that you're not encouraging poaching and retention of live bycatch, and that you are not buying your products from criminal cartels; prove that you're not profiting from cruel, wasteful and unsustainable fishing practices!
That's the only way you will survive as an industry.
And if so, godspeed - and to your customers, as long as they really want to eat that stuff: bon appetit and enjoy your freedom of choice, individual predilections and cultural traditions!
And if not, face the consequences: the boycotts, the bans and the criminal prosecution.
The choice is yours.