As shark's fin soup becomes more popular in China, shark fishermen are killing as many as 73 million sharks each year in order to harvest their fins. It’s not because the fins are delicious, because they aren’t, says a local restaurateur. It’s just because people want to look rich.
Shark's fin soup signals status, and as China's middle class grows, more wedding parties and business people are choosing to serve the dish. It’s basically like giving out Jordan almonds as wedding favors — they don’t taste like much but it looks classy to give them out. Only imagine a scenario where 73 million Jordan almond beasts get killed every year.
Some Pacific states in the U.S. and countries like Chile and the Bahamas are trying to protect sharks by cracking down on commercial shark fishing or the sale of shark products. In Hong Kong, some young people have taken to cordoning off their green-minded wedding guests at special tables where they don’t have to look at the stuff. (Which — can we say again? — Doesn’t. Taste. Good. Apparently you have to work really hard to make the soup edible, then work harder to avoid eating it.)
But since Hong Kong is about one-millionth the size of China, the conscientiousness trend is not having much impact. The no-shark tables look pretty small next to an bevy of Bridezillas ensuring their guests know how important they are by serving a food no one would eat if it didn’t make them look important.