finned hammerhead shark (image from www.madmermaids.com)
Thanks to my friend, Perry Gan for writing this inspiring article about Sharks’ Conservation and the reason behind it. I am posting this article on behalf of Perry and hope that it inspires you as much as it did for me:
I have been meaning to write on the issue of Sharks’ Conservation for the longest time. Why i believe in it and how important it is to us. So here’s my take (it’s a little long so please bear with me. Please read it in its entirety, I would appreciate it tremendously as this means a lot to me. And nothing would please me more if you would offer your thoughts and feedbacks after reading this, i will write a Chinese version next week!) (ps: I might have sounded a tad emotional while writing this and i think it reflects in some paragraphs, i am not here to judge but to lay down the facts and share my thoughts. I apologize to anyone who might feel offended or patronized after reading this. My conscience is clear):
Recently I was at a Wedding Banquet with a bunch of friends that I had not seen for sometimes. The dinner had just started and we just had our 1st course. Mid way through casual talks and wisecracks the waitress came with our 2nd dish – Shark Fin Soup.
Shark Fin Soup: a Status food for wedding banquets. Because of its scarcity and high price, some restaurants have resorted to mixing real Shark Fins with Mung Bean Vermicellies or Fake Shark Fins (made from fish glue) to bring down the costs. For the host it was important to show that they had not intended to opt for this cheap trick. Hence the fins had been prepared separately from the broth. You could still see the translucent shreds of fins on the plate that almost took the shape of an entire fin. Nothing could be more dignified than letting the distinguished guests know that the fins are genuine.
I dutifully declined to take the soup, and explained that ever since I had become a diver I had stopped taking Shark Fin Soup and had been encouraging others to do the same. For the ensuing hour or so I was bombarded with scores of questions by the uninformed/skeptics (sprinkled with some scorns, sneers and jeers I guess….):
“Come on, it’s such a waste, after all the soup has been prepared and there’s nothing you could do about it, not consuming it doesn’t mean you could save a shark right now, right?)
“If you pledge not to eat Shark Fin Soup out of considerations for animal cruelty, then why are you still eating meat? Isn’t it hypocritical?”
“Don’t be misguided by the Western cultures, the Whites are always teaching us what we should and should not do. Shark Fins Soup is a delicacy passed down from generations, its part of our culinary culture. Why should we listen to a bunch of screwups who’d done so much in destroying our nature in the past 200 years?. After all, they cut down the most trees, raised the level of Carbon Dioxides, wreaked the most havocs to the environments and we are forced to shoulder the mishaps. Now they are pointing fingers at us? Enough is enough! How about a little respect (for our culture) please!”
“Why should we care? Sharks are such Monsters anyway!”
“What you are advocating may have huge implications and impacts to the fishermen and the restaurant owners, if nobody consumes Shark Fins, surely many people’s livelihoods will be affected. Do you want to see that happen?”
A female mako shark being finned at a shark fishing camp, Santa Rosalia, Mexico. (Photograph: Brian Skerry/National Geographic/Getty Images)
I knew it for the fact that convincing people to believe in me and my cause would take a whole lot of efforts; the biggest plight that sharks face today is sadly still a lack of awareness from us. Surely some may hold the skewed opinions that my so-called quest is nothing but a way to look cool and hip. After all, Going Green is in vogue now! Yes, it may look cool to save species rather than destroying them. And conveniently posting and forwarding some “save the sharks” videos or articles in the Facebook may earn me a lot of friends, perhaps even some respects and popularities.
However, my pledge and my quest to conserve sharks really have nothing to do with getting my ego stroked.
Here is what I believe: As a diver, I have had a chance to see underwater nature as both breathtakingly beautiful and relentlessly unforgiving. In fact I find some of my most memorable dive experiences to be quite humbling and spiritual at the same time. As I marveled at the diversity and colours underwater, I started seeing God’s best works in a different light. These moments washed away egos and prides and prepared me to act and defend for the oceans.
As a diver, I have the vested interest in seeing the oceans thrive. It’s not enough just to regale friends with how beautiful the underwater world is, or how interesting my last dive trip has been. It’s also my responsibility to pass the words that the oceans are indeed at their limit (and in Deep trouble). I need to tell as many people as possible, that what we decide to eat today has a direct effect on how the ocean animals live tomorrow. Just as important, I can lead by example and make educated decisions about the food in my bowl.