- Posted August 11, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
- It’s a Slam Dunk: Playing Hooky on Wall Street to Watch the NCAA Tournament
- Solar Energy is not just for TreeHuggers anymore
- Sleeping with the Boss’ Wife at the Company Holiday Party
- How Wall Street Values Venomous Political Rhetoric from Capitol Hill
- The Household Economics Facing Americans Purchasing Health Insurance
It’s Shark Week! Time to Eat!
Yeah, that’s right - I say get em all, because a shark is an animal and the only place where I should ever see one is on my dinner plate or in a soup bowl. And, according to recent food consumption economics, I’m definitely not alone in this thinking.
The most popular--and demanded--part of the shark is the fin. Shark’s fin soup is by itself a $500 million to $1 billion annual industry. And these figures are expected to grow as global wealth continues to demand a delicacy typically costing up to $2,000 per bowl. After all, shark fin soup is widely considered an aphrodisiac replete with anti-aging properties. So, why get a botox injection when you can consume a quart of this stuff and feel good about yourself?
And for you self-made, Gordon Ramsay-wannabe chefs looking for a cooking adventure, you may want to think twice. This soup has an elaborate preparation, requiring up to 24 hours to make (although, I would be highly interested in seeing the contestants on MasterChef give it a try), and is customarily served at the most luxurious events.
As the China edition of the Wall Street Journal aptly stated: “Shark fin soup has helped make it a status symbol at weddings and official banquets, including at then-Premier Zhou Enlai’s feting of President Richard Nixon at a state dinner in 1972.”
But let’s not sell the shark short! There’s plenty more money to be made after reeling this sea menace in. There is shark’s fin sushi; and as the WSJ described, a “pillowy” white cake in Japan made from sharks known as hanpen. There are also spiny dogfish sharks that are used to make fish and chips for British consumers; and shark’s fin cat food is also available.
I can already sense you reaching for that fishing rod; and after taking a look at this figure, you may want to grab two.
According to the Pew Environment Group and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the average value for a shark when sold for their fins and meat is $10,800. And seeing that approximately 100 million of these “sea dogs” are caught and slaughtered every year, there are millions to be made by fishermen, distributors, and restaurants.
However, not everyone thinks like a capitalist.
In January, 2011, President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act, which is a mandate that ensures the traditional practice of finning does not take place in the U.S. It regulates that any shark caught will be brought back to shore with it’s fins intact, cutting back on the disposal of live, finless sharks that usually suffocate at the bottom of the ocean.
Regardless of the Act, though, it’s still up to state legislation to ban the act of finning. Currently, only Hawaii, Oregon, California, Washington and New York have passed laws that ban the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins.
The New York ban just recently took place on July 1, 2014, which is somewhat significant because it’s the largest port for shark fin trading on the East Coast. Regardless, though, shark fin soup lovers can simply cross the George Washington Bridge and head into Fort Lee, NJ, because there are dozens of restaurants still serving the delicious soup.
Even with the government bans in place, it’s only isolated to the fins. The entire shark is still considered a very valuable commodity, so don’t feel as if you’re breaking the law when enjoying a meal that some would rather hypocritically defend.
Yay for Shark Week!
Disclosure: The author loves to fish for sharks, laughs at sharks, and eats sharks; and still considers Jaws the best movie of all time.