Earlier this week, it being Shark Week and all, a group of Pennsylvania legislators, including local state senators Larry Farnese and Daylin Leach, introduced Senate Bill No. 1578, which calls for a ban on the possession, trade, distribution or sale of “the raw, dried or otherwise processed detached fin or the raw, dried or otherwise processed detached tail of an elasmobranch,” the fancy name for the animal grouping that includes sharks.
Farnese says that the ban is imperative because of the controversial process of finning, a practice banned in the United States and many other nations. In finning, a fisherman in search of prized shark fins, which can fetch many thousands of dollars depending on the size and type, slices the fin off of a living shark and throws the finless animal back in the water to die. No one wants the shark’s meat, because that’s worth drastically less than the fin.
“While finning is illegal under federal law, possession of the fins is not,” explains Farnese. “This is an effort to close that loophole. Plus, finning is just cruel.”
Note that if you intend to use your shark fin for taxidermic purposes or if you take supplements that contain shark fin or cartilage, those are exception to the ban, although since it seems now that those supplements might cause Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s, you may want to avoid shark fin altogether.
Shark fin soup is frequently served at nicer Chinese weddings, where the parents footing the bill are determined to show off their status with the pricey soup. One Chinese native who seems particularly unconcerned with the proposed ban is Susanna Foo, the esteemed Philadelphia chef and owner of Susanna Foo’s Gourmet Kitchen in Radnor. “Most people don’t like shark fin soup,” points out Foo. “I offered it at the Borgata and got $40 a bowl, but it takes a lot of ingredients and time and preparation to make it right. Actually, I never tasted good shark fin soup in this country.”