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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Bad Soup

Bad Soup

Asian Shark-fin soup (credit: Wikicommons)

Shark-fin soup is bad for both for the sharks and the marine environment. Demand for the fins is clearing the oceans of these top predators. Estimates indicate that over 100 million sharks are killed every year the Asian soup. The irony is that the fibrous fins offer no taste or nutritional value but only a bit of texture to the popular dish in China.

Researchers believe 80-90% of all sharks have been depleted to the point of extinction. This is a marine animal that survived since the Ordovician period, 400 million years ago, before land animals and most plants had even evolved. The large fish grow and reproduce slowly so  aquaculture production is not be feasible. They survived the dinosaurs but may not survive the soup bowl.


                                    Shark fins (credit: The Ecologist)

The best hope is to strictly enforce international protection laws, create  "no fishing" marine reserve zones, and public education to reduce or halt the slaughter. Ocean mammals like whales and dolphins have greatly benefited from similar efforts. Hawai'i has shown the way by banning shark fin soup and other States are following their conservation action. Enlisting the help of well known athletes such as the 7-foot tall Chinese basketball star Yao Ming is an excellent approach. Food science could help by developing a texture substitute for Chinese chefs.


                      Chinese sports star Yao Ming says "no to shark fin soup"

Cultural practices in China that depend on bear paws and gal bladder for tonics, tiger penis and bones for soups, and other rare animals for phony potions must change if any of these marine animals are to survive. Let's start by banning a bad soup from menus everywhere.


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