Shark Fin Soup: To Ban or Not to Ban?

I love many kinds of Chinese food, but I've never been a huge fan of shark fin soup, a dish that has been regarded for a long time as a traditional Chinese delicacy. While the dish may seem completely normal for those of us that are used to seeing it on Chinese menus or at the occasional family dinner, it has recently become the center of a hot political debate in California.

A bill to ban the sale and possession of shark fin soup is running into trouble in the Senate where many—including Chinese Americans—are divided on the issue. Supporters of the bill stress that the shark fin trade is cruel and has contributed to significant declines in shark populations worldwide, resulting in serious environmental ramifications such as the disruption of ocean ecosystems. On the flip side, opponents of the bill argue that eating shark fin soup is a fundamental cultural right for the Chinese.

The debate is an intriguing one which highlights the clash that can emerge between unique cultural practices and modern American society. As a Chinese American, I can sympathize with their belief that eating shark fin soup is simply part of their culture. However, I also think that hunting sharks for their fins is inhumane, which is why I personally choose not to eat it. The words of Assemblyman Paul Fong resonate with me: "Anything that is unhealthy, that the culture is practicing, we should stop doing it. We used to bind women's feet, and that was unhealthy for the women."

What do you think? Should shark fin soup be banned or not?