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[经济学人] [2011.10.01]Conservation in China: Lone sharks 孤独的鲨鱼









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发表于 2011-10-10 15:17 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Conservation in China
Lone sharks

Persuading the Chinese to give up shark’s fin soup


Some nets he doesn’t like 他喜欢篮网,不喜欢渔网

IS THE tide turning against shark’s fin soup? Conservationists certainly hope so. On September 22nd in Shanghai WildAid, a charity, launched a campaign to persuade Chinese people to give up eating the delicacy. Celebrity support for the bid was provided by Yao Ming, a Chinese basketball star, and Sir Richard Branson, a British business star. In California, meanwhile, a ban on the sale, trade and possession of sharks’ fins has been passed by the state senate, and awaits only the governor’s signature to become law.

The booming Chinese appetite for shark’s fin soup is known to be the driving force behind the depletion of shark species worldwide. Matt Rand, director of Global Shark Conservation at the Pew Environment Group, says that more than 30% of shark species are at risk of extinction. Marine ecosystems depend on the presence of high-level predators to keep other species in check, he says. Yet many Chinese accuse the campaigners of double standards. Why should shark’s fin, an important part of certain Chinese feasts, be banned, they ask? Why not ban bluefin tuna, which is also critically endangered, but more widely eaten by Westerners?

Lacking any inherent flavour, shark’s fin is treasured in China for its strandy, gelatinous “mouth feel”, its centuries-old status as a prized dish and its astronomical price. Serving it honours both host and guest. Most Westerners, unschooled in its pleasures, consider it a pointless delicacy. Juliet Eilperin, an American author, sums up the general Western viewpoint in “Demon Fish”, a book about sharks. A frond of fin, she says, is “a translucent, tasteless bit of noodle” and shark’s fin soup “one of the greatest scams of all time”. Eating it, Ms Eilperin suggests, is even more reprehensible than eating other morally objectionable foods such as delicious foie gras, because there is “no gastronomic pay-off”.
鱼翅虽无特有的味道,但却由于其爽滑的口感、百年来备受推崇的地位和高昂的价格而受到中国人的青睐。在餐桌上呈上鱼翅这道菜,不仅彰显了主人家的高贵地位,也体现了主人对客人的尊重。大多数西方人由于没有吃过鱼翅汤,认为它是一种毫无意义的食品。美国作家Juliet Eilperin在她的著作《魔鬼鱼》中总结了西方人关于鱼翅汤的普遍观点。她说,一叶鱼翅“就像是半透明的、无味道的面条一样”,而鱼翅汤是“史上最坑爹的食物之一”。她认为,食用鱼翅汤是应受到指责的,比食用鹅肝那些在道义上不应食用的食品更甚,因为鹅肝好歹味美,而鱼翅汤“毫无美食意义可言”。

Celebrity endorsements and well-meaning Californians aside, the question now is whether wealthy Chinese in Asia can be persuaded to stop eating shark’s fin. Sceptics abound. Being lectured by Westerners on cultural or moral issues gets right up the noses of most Chinese. But if disapproval of the consumption of shark’s fin encourages the Chinese to see it as luo hou (backward), one of the most dreaded of all Chinese epithets, they might want to renounce the stuff anyway.

This has already happened with spitting in the streets, which many Chinese now regard as a backward habit. Eating dogs, too, is increasingly viewed as barbaric (a 600-year old dog-eating festival in eastern China was cancelled in September after public uproar). If the new Chinese elite can be persuaded that deliberately eating endangered species ill befits their aspirations to cosmopolitanism, there might be some hope for the sharks. Other threatened creatures that find their way, legally and illegally, into Chinese cooking pots could also be spared.

Already, farms are springing up outside Chinese cities to cater to more sophisticated Chinese consumers seeking out “green foods” such as free-range meat and poultry, or organically grown vegetables. Ethical and environmental concerns will surely follow. There are precedents for the disappearance of classic Chinese dishes on conservation grounds. Bear’s paw, for example, is no longer eaten openly. Instead, you may be offered imitation bear’s paw made from mutton pushed into a paw-shaped mould. Imitation shark’s fin is already available should anybody want it. And when the social cachet of a fabulously expensive delicacy is required, these days a bottle of Château Lafite might do.

Time can both ruin everything and build everything-It depends on you

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