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5/30/2006

Conservation Awareness for Chinese people


Eating is a part of human life. Due to dispersion of the human population, different races are evolved into eating different thing to survive. Because of the human's capability in adaptation to his environment, he is deemed as a great surviver on mother Earth.

I am not sure if Chinese is a lucky or unlucky race. For one the region that it evolved in is abundon in source of nutrient. On the other hand, there are so many disasters in the area, famine is a common event in the history of China. So the Chinese by nature has evolved into a race that have a taste for almost everything. Pig for instance is edible from head to toe, not a single part of it is wasted. This is something that I feel the Chinese is good at, making full use of what is available and adventurous in trying something new.

While I am proud to be a Chinese holding these values, I also feel that this is also a potential desaster when there is no catastrophy. The Chinese urge to satisfy their taste buds is in fact causing destruction to nature. Chinese love for the rare and expensive food give rise to the unnecessary slaughtering of animals that originally not within the food menu of man. People of China for instance is starting to test out new source of proteins such as Donkeys and Peacocks. Although animals such as Peacock may not go into extinction as a result due to the farming of such creatures, same may not be said to some other organism.

Black moss for example has been a house hold food product for a long time. Unfortunately due to the booming of the Chinese population around the world as well as the financial stability, the demand shoot up until the Black Moss is now close to extinction. If not for the intervention of the Chinese government, we may have seen the last of it.



With the improvement of more Chinese population, sea life is the next affected area. This is especially so for the Shark population. Shark fins has not well known during the 70s as a delicacy as it is a very expensive dish. I could remember that only during wedding dinners that people get to taste the soup. It is an acquired taste, I dislike it when I was young. However, with the financial stability, Shark fin soup is no longer a prestige but a common dish. People are ordering Shark fin soup more frequently as they can afford it. They are more willing to try the soup as it was a soup for the rich in the past.

With the awareness of increasing demand for Shark fins, fishermen around the world started to hunt down the fish that used to have little value in their region. When they caught a shark, the first thiing that they do is to cut down the fins. As there is no sales value for the rest of the fish, they throw it back into the sea. Shark cannot breathe if it cannot swim, so imagine that a fish actually drown in the water that it lives in. The death of shark in such way is tragic and it is all because of human greed and his urge to satisfy his taste bud.

I loved Shark fin soup, but I have since have it cut out of my diet list. I still remember during the time when I was planning my wedding, I have requested the restaurant to change the soup of the package. I still can clearly recall the time when I revealed my decision to my family and relative, one of my uncle actually commented," doesn't that make the event not grand enough, where got face?" So is it because of face that we put Shark Fin soup on the wedding menu? Just because it will look good for our reputation? How about the reputation of being the race who is responsible in wiping out the shark population? It would make us no difference from the Japanese who insist that it is in their culture to eat whale even if it means causing whale extinction.



I still recall a story that is told to me. The wolf is a ferocious animal. The pack is cruel to their prey. When they catch up with the prey each wolf will bite on to the prey causing extreme pain and sufering to the animal. This eventually kill the prey. But what is its difference with man? Wolves only kill for necessity and not luxury. They will ensure that the food that they harvest will be fully utilized. It is one value that we human lacks, we are extremely wasteful, shark fin soup is in fact one good example. WE should be ashame of our behaviour because we are even worse than a pack of wolfs when come to awareness of our fragile environment. We reflect upon ourselves on what our action has caused.


Shark is an important figure in the sea. Because of its predatory nature, it ensure the health of the ocean by cleaning up weak and sick fishes. Without it we will see deterioration of health from the oceans. Although a predator, it is however a fragile organism. Being at the top of the food chain, its lifespan is longer and it reproduces at a slower rate. With the increasing number of people with financial capability to drink the soup, we do not need a good mathematician to know that sharks are being depleted at an alarming rate. We need to do something, we need to stop the killing of sharks, and stopping the demand is the only way to do it.

Yet many of my own race still trying to justify themselves to eating shark fin soup. I normally find excuse that shark is a man eater so there is no harm eating it. So how many of us have family members or relatives being killed by sharks? I can say close to none, Chinese on the other hand have a wide majority tasted shark fin soup. Another excuse that people give isthat there are so many sharks in the world that we can never finishing killing them. Unfortunately it is true that sharks are getting rare nowadays until many restaurants have fake shark fin soups. Not only that, the World Conservation Union has already listed sharks into their red list, indicating that shark is now officially an endangered species.

I am proud to say that since 2000 I have not eaten any more shark fin soup. My family still do and they try to persuade me to take a little, which I have so far refused. So far when I am around, they do their best not to order the soup as I am not eating. I am also hearing more young people refusing to serve shark fin soups at their wedding. One of the most enlightening event was Disney Land in Hong Kong proceeded not to serve Shark fin soup unless the source can sustain the shark population. It is not the result of the adult's protests, but a much younger generation. I am glade that at least in Hong Kong the mindset of the young is now different from the old. I only hope that the change of mindset can be done in a larger scale.

As human,we are the one who has the power to do what is right for mother earth, we need to put in our effort to protect the only fragile habitat that we have. Other wise, there will be no more earth for our off springs to live on.

Photos from http://www.seashepherd.org/longline/longline_shark_finning.html

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