Predating virtually anything with a spine, sharks are one of the oldest living animal families on earth.
Humans are rapidly jeopardizing this legacy of more than 400 million years for a bowl of soup.
Shark fin soup is a Chinese delicacy at banquets for middle-to highincome families - and an off-menu item in some Chinese restaurants; it is even rumoured to be in a restaurant in the Langleys.
Shark finning is the cruel practice of harvesting shark fins. The shark's pectoral and dorsal fins, and sometimes the tail, are sliced off the living shark, which is tossed back into the water to bleed out a slow death, if it is so unlucky to not be eaten by another shark.
Bodies are released back into the oceans to save space on the shark-hunting vessel and maximize profit.
Fins are worth many times more than other parts of the shark. Up to $50,000 can be fetched for the dorsal fin of a whale shark.
About 20 per cent of shark species are nearing extinction, and upwards of 30 per cent are endangered or nearing endangered status. With finning killing more than 73 million sharks per year, those numbers are only going to get worse.
Sharks mature slowly and reproduce later in life. A whale shark cannot reproduce until it is 30 years old. In addition, the majority of sharks will only have one or two young at a time.
We cannot take sharks faster than they replenish, it's simple math.
Sharks are apex predators: at the top of the food chain, with virtually nothing hunting them - other than humans. The loss of sharks, or even different species of sharks, could throw our entire marine ecosystem out of whack.
Claudia Li, founder of Shark Truth, a non-profit that promotes saving sharks and awareness of human impact on the shark populations, notes, "The fin itself has no taste, only texture that can easily be replaced."
Ironically, the tremendous taste of the soup actually comes from "the condensed chicken and ham broth, and likely a sprinkle of MSG."
Although shark fin symbolizes wealth status, and also is linked to a Chinese tradition called "sharing fortune," the soup is not worth the triple-digit price tag. However, Li adds, "The Chinese culture is also one that is rooted in the values of nature and balance."
Joining Toronto, Mississauga, and London, and other Canadian cities, Port Moody was the first B.C. municipality to implement a ban on possession, trade, sale, and distribution of shark fin products. Richmond, Vancouver, and Burnaby, with most venues that serve shark fin soup, are also considering bans.
Councillor Rosemary Wallace raised the issue to Langley City council recently. Until further information is gathered by the council, a decision will not be made.
Langley needs to follow Port Moody's bylaw which includes a fine and the potential to lose business licences when in violation of the ban. We need to spread this ban across B.C., Canada, and eventually the world.
We cannot afford to make the kinds of mistakes we have made in the past with other species. This massive slaughtering of a species needs to stop before we hit that point of no return.
Shark fin soup should become extinct.
Mike Zamprogno, Langley
@ Copyright 2013