The government needs to notify the public of the marine crisis that we are facing, so that both sides can come together and take the challenge to protect our oceans. In capitalism, I believe consumers still perform a crucial role in the economy. Education is a powerful tool that can be used by the government to inform the consumers that their choices will actually affect the environment to an extent. Moreover, the society has responsibilities to preserve the natural resources for our future generations. The government can make this happen by funding the non-profit organizations that are devoted to spreading the messages around the society. No other candidates can do better than these passionate groups who do research on these topics day and night. It is also important to let the next generation know the significance of environmental preservation. Through education, we can ensure the sustainability of our oceans, and let our children and grandchildren enjoy the delicacies from nature.
Besides education, in the short term we need other prompt measures to regain the shark populations. Recently, California legislators passed a law to ban the processing, sale and distribution of imported shark fins in the state. It is a crucial step taken by the government to preserve the shark populations. Paul Fong, a Silicon Valley Democrat who grew up with shark fin soup and spoke Cantonese at home, asserted to a New York Times reporter in support of the ban, "Being environmental conscious, I took the scientists' side." He learnt from the scientific evidence that the shark fining industry was really damaging our oceans. He wouldn't support the tradition of shark fins soup even if he was born in a Chinese family. Shark fin soup needs to be banned to prevent a further decline of the already plumped shark populations. The luxury of shark fin soup ought to become history in no doubts.
In the 21st century, there are so many delicacies in the world that we can choose from, while shark fin soup is an old recipe. According to the website Wild Aids, "Tough shark fin soup represents status in Asian culture. The fin itself adds no flavor, nutritional, or medical value." In other words, the taste of shark fin soup doesn't come from the fins. The flavor of the broth usually comes from abalone and chicken. So the shark fins can be substituted, saving the lives of millions of wild sharks. In Danson's book, Oceana, he quotes the Chinese proverb, "A thing is valued if it is rare" (107). Danson is saying that the rarity of the fins makes them valuable. I totally agree with his perspective. In fact, there should be no other reasons for people to be so fascinated with this "delicacy". Shark fins have no taste or any medical value. They are tough, and require complicated preparation. Most importantly, they are rare and expensive.
While abalone and sea cucumbers are also loved by the Chinese, they may replace shark fin as the raw materials for luxury delicacy. In my interview with Maggie, a Chinese restaurant owner in Sunnyvale, we talked about the shark fin soup ban and its effect on her business. She spoke optimistically, "I think the effects on my business will be very limited since shark fin soup only occupies a small portion of our profits." She also told me that they had prepared other luxury dishes to substitute the shark fin soup. In fact, they would consider using artificial shark fin after the ban. "Eventually, the "environmental friendly" shark fin even lowers our costs," she said. I realize that there are actually more substitutes for shark fin soup than I thought before. Although it may take some time for the community to get used to the new law, I hope we can reach a win-win situation as we protect the environment for the future. We share the benefits from a well preserved environment.
Some conservatives may dispute my claim that the ban is not an intrusion upon Chinese culture, or even racism. I acknowledge that shark fin soup has been a Chinese tradition for five-hundred years. However, we also have to look at the scientific evidence which shows a rapid decrease in shark populations in the last century. With no doubts, no one wants to see these beautiful creatures become extinct. Why don't we treat this as an opportunity to move on and look for more sustainable sources for our delicacies? Humans have been living harmoniously with the nature for thousands of years.
It has always been a tough fight between preservation and modernization. It is useful to learn that the human race is one of the inhabitants on the earth like all other species. We may have the biggest influence on the environment, but we do not have the right to call ourselves the owners of the earth, therefore we should live peacefully with the rest of nature. I believe that we are given the responsibility to organize this territory as long as we are enjoying all the privileges given from the nature. This is the contract between humans and the nature.