13 August 2011

Shark Finning

I'm a huge fan of Chef Gordon Ramsay.  If there's a show with him in it, I'll watch it.  I was especially last week when EW (Entertainment Weekly) was taking shots at him for appearing in something like four different shows in one week (MasterChef, Hell's Kitchen, The F Word, and Shark Bait).  EW has a feature every issue called "What to Watch" where they highlight several shows each night.

For Monday, they highlighted MasterChef with the joke, "Sometimes I think I just can't get enough of that Gordon Ramsay.  And then Tuesday comes.  (This joke has delayed gratification.  See tomorrow's listings!)

Tuesday had this to offer.  "Gordon Ramsay's F Word: Wow.  Again?  It's a good thing Gordon's not on another show tonight or I'd get really sick of him."  And "MasterChef: The final five contestants have to re-create signature dishes from...you guessed it! Gordon Ramsay!"  And "Gordon Ramsay's Shark Bait: Seriously, dude.  Take a vacation."

I was bummed that I forgot to record Shark Bait.  Stupid.  So I was happy when I woke up this morning and BBC America was kindly replaying it.  Until I watched it and sank into a depression and anger I haven't felt in a long time.

He started by discussing his eldest daughter and how she's obsessed by sharks.  Then he discussed shark fin soup.  Now, anyone familiar with Chef Ramsay knows he makes a sport of poking fun at vegetarians (while revering the humane killing of animals and ensuring that all meat is cooked well since an animal gave its life for that meal).  So I was a little scared of where this show was going to go and what was in store for his daughter.  Thankfully, Matilda was left home for this road trip.

He discussed the history of shark fin soup - it was originally served only to emperors and empresses, so it's now a status symbol to eat it, although it's readily available in Asia, even from street vendors.  However, because the shark fins are in such demand, fishers are using illegal means to obtain the fins -- a practice known as finning.

Finning is when they catch the sharks, cut the fins off (usually while the shark is still alive), then throw the shark back in the water to die.  They do this because the shark meat will no longer be valuable when they get back to dock.  Additionally, these morons do not care which sharks they kill.  There was footage of them killing a hammerhead shark, which is endangered.  (This was the point at which I had to stop eating breakfast.  Mind, I've watched surgeries, and I had a hard time watching this.)  Chef Ramsay found a baby hammerhead, which he estimated to be a year old, dead and thrown aside on the back of a truck.  Hammerheads do not reach sexual maturity until 15 years and they can only reproduce once a year.

In the past decade, the shark population has dropped an estimated 60% because of practices related to finning and supplying restaurants with fins for shark fin soup.  This also means that, since sharks are at the top of the oceanic food chain, this is having disastrous consequences for the marine ecosystem.

At the end of the show, Chef Ramsay had gathered restaurant managers from the leading Chinese restaurants in London, educated them, and asked them to stop serving shark fin soup.  They agreed.  He is also now a patron of The Shark Trust.

Since I was mired in a sinkhole of depression after the show,  I decided to see what other progress has been made.

Hawai'i recently became the first place to completely outlaw the possession of shark fins.  So serving shark fin soup at all is now illegal.  Oregon and Washington followed.  California is considering a similar bill, but the Chinese-American lobby is resisting, citing cultural issues.  However, some of the legislators supporting the bill are Chinese-Americans.

1 comment:

  1. We should cut their arms and legs off, then throw them in a tank of healthy hungry sharks...