California grocers who sold the dried fins and restaurants that had the prized shark fin soup on menus had 18 months to move their supply. In that time, one restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley that specialized in the delicacy closed down.
Shark fin soup
Shark populations worldwide have been under great pressure because of the popularity of their fins for the renowned shark fin soup in China.
The growing middle class in the country value the fins’ culinary presence in ceremonies and celebrations, and are finally able to afford the expensive delicacy for the first time.
The speciality has been popular in China since the Ming Dynasty. Recently it has changed more to a symbol of decimated shark populations. Close to 73 million sharks are killed for their fins each year. Many, if not all, of the fins are obtained by the process of finning – slicing the fins from live sharks and throwing the disabled animals back into the ocean, where they drown.
Demand for the fins has reduced some shark populations to 10% of historical levels.
The worst is that shark fins add no flavour to the soup, which is usually more chicken flavoured. It is prized for its texture, and as a thickener.