1/3 of shark species are threatened with extinction
Shark finning is the cruel practice of capturing sharks at sea, hauling them on deck, and slicing off their fins, usually while the sharks are still alive. Because shark meat is not as valuable as the fins, the maimed animals are tossed overboard to drown or bleed to death. Every year, up to 73 million sharks are slaughtered, primarily fueled by the global demand for shark fin soup.
Shark fin soup has long been a popular entrée due to its association with prestige and privilege in Asian cultures, regularly served at banquets, weddings, and corporate events. As a result of China’s expanding economy and rising affluence, an increasing number of people can now afford the soup, priced at up to 100 USD a bowl, and demand has risen dramatically. Though shark fin soup represents status in Asian cultures, the fin itself adds no flavor, nutritional, nor medicinal value.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has concluded that up to 1/3 of shark species are now threatened with extinction, with some populations showing a 99% decline. As an apex predator, sharks play a vital role in the marine food web. Research shows that the massive depletion of sharks has cascading effects throughout the oceans’ ecosystems. Complicating matters, sharks are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they are slow to reach reproductive maturity and produce very few offspring.
Studies have also shown that the consumption of shark fin products poses a serious threat to human health. Shark fins contain an extremely high concentration of mercury and other toxic substances, which cannot be destroyed in the cooking process. Some of the dangers of mercury to human health include fetal damage, infertility, increased risk of heart disease, and neurological disorders.
The aim of Chefs Against Shark Fins is to raise awareness about the cruel practice of shark finning and the resulting decline in shark populations and its impact on marine ecosystems worldwide.
We call upon the expertise of culinary masters from various cultural backgrounds to share alternatives to shark fin soup and to publicly pledge to never knowingly purchase, serve, or consume shark fins. With your help, we plan to harness the power of social media to inspire and encourage your peers around the world to make the same commitment. Together, we have the power to make a difference.
Thus far, the campaign has attracted support from internationally renowned chefs Wolfgang Puck, Gordon Ramsey, Mario Batali, as well as some of California's most highly respected chefs including Hiro Stone (Terra), Patricia Unterman (Hayes Street Grill), Charles Phan (The Slanted Door), Cecilla Chiang (the former Mandarin), Alex Ong (Betelnut), Kin Lui (Tataki South), Kenny Zhu (Tataki South) and dozens of others.