Users of Chinese and Western social media speak out on an announced ban on consumption of shark fin soup at Chinese government banquets.
Read full story here.
[Quote from story]… Reactions on China’s microblogs have been far more vocal — amassing some tens of thousands of posts in one day, most of them very cynical.
“Shark fin is only one dish in the range of exotic delicacies in China. There are still bear paws, armadillos, birds’ nests, and monkey brains," posted 老缅翡翠.
Lavish government spending on delicacies was also a great concern. 此时此刻Sun: “When they eat such delicacies as bird nests, they are eating from the blood and sweat of the people!”
Still, others were confused why it would take three years to implement the policy. 吕N帆posted: “Why the heck would it take three years? Are you trying to eat the sharks into extinction before then?”
Some bloggers thought the policy won’t be enforceable, since there is so little oversight on government officials, especially on what they eat. 口香榶: “Whether they eat it or not, nobody can tell! What a farce.”
Still, others pretended the announcement actually was a farce — as Curious_蒋 wrote, “Okay we’ll stop eating shark fins. Just use them to rinse and gargle.”
- Glad to see these reactions coming out of China’s microblogging site, Weibo. Not because they’re cynical, because that all might be true, but because people are actually talking about shark fin, and having opinions on it, and not just accepting it as cultural tradition. For me at least, it’s a rare, albeit very limited (and media selected) insight into what today’s Chinese citizen thinks about the issue.
There’s perhaps no other animal on Earth so synonymous with all things diminutive as the modestly framed shrimp — but, as it turns out, not everything about those famed crustaceans is small. Biologists say that common shrimp farming methods across Asia are so devastating to fragile ecosystems as to make ordering a simple shrimp cocktail one of the worst things you could do for the environment in the name of grabbing some grub.
Not to mention the actual footprint on the seafloor from shrimp trawlers. So not only are Mangroves cleared for shrimp farming, but the reefs too. With a double-edged sword cutting into coastal ecosystems, our appetite for Shrimp will soon leave us wanting.
Mum, on the subject of endangered Sea Turtles. (via mad-as-a-marine-biologist)
A new and dangerous strain of Salmonella is circulating in Europe and North African poultry. As usual these days, it’s hypothesized to come from the use of antibiotics in factory farming operations. Only this time it’s a bit different.
Some less “clean” forms of aquaculture (the factory farming of fish) use a (disgusting) process called “integrated aquaculture”. Basically, this means that the ponds are fertilized with chicken poop, and the waste from the ponds is fed back to chickens as “feed”. Suffice to say that you wouldn’t want to eat either that fish or that chicken if you knew the source in advance.
It looks like the DNA that made this new Salmonella (almonella Kentucky ST198) so dangerous came from poultry feed/fish poop that was subject to some antibiotic exposure and became resistant. It then jumped to the chickens through their feed.
It’s troubling on two counts. First, aquaculture is actually one of the more sustainable ways to provide ecologically-friendly food protein to the world’s population, so seeing dangerous bugs pop up in that world is not good news. Second, because aquaculture is a young method compared to land-animal farming, the regulations are weak and incomplete, therefore allowing such practices as poop-food recycling. It means that antibiotic abuse is part of small-scale farms now, and those farms are growing fish.
(via Wired Science)
In-situ aquaculture has such inherent problems, it may be “better” than destructive fishing methods, but the food and drugs and waste produced have had serious knock-on effects to adjacent water systems since the beginning. Coupled with the reclamation of coastal ecosystems (like invaluable mangrove forests) to situate the farms and the use of caught fish for feeds, I find it difficult to call it ‘eco-friendly’.
Now that fish grown in factories, with little environmental impact, face a major blow, it seems to highlight the price we pay for our insatiable taste of seafood.
At the end of the day, we do our best, but the more I learn, the more I am convinced that there is no truly sustainable method of harvesting seafood. There is just the least of several evils.
Aquaculture is a great idea, but in practice can cause huge amounts of damage.
For example, shrimp is in humongous demand, and are farmed (as well as fished). For that you need brackish water. Conveniently that’s just where Mangroves are located. So the mangrove forests are cleared, and you’ve lost a whole ecosystem, and all of it’s services (coastal protection, habitat, carbon sink, nursery for commercial fish species).
Even if you farm fish in a holding tank in mid-water, as they do for salmon, the food and fish excretion that drop to the benthos stimulate mass expansions of bacterial populations that use up all the oxygen and create ‘dead zones’. And the antibiotics they use on the salmon are washed down current and affect wild populations of various species.
There’s an impact for everything you manipulate, and it’s usually unpredictable. I think the only way to quell over-fishing is to abstain. Especially if you live in a developed country, seafood is a luxury, not your daily subsidence, leave it to the people who really need that protein.
It’s all about supply and demand. To quote the anti-shark fin mantra:
When the buying stops, the killing will too.
Mum, on the subject of endangered Sea Turtles.