First of all, I have to say that today was a pretty good day. Craig Ferguson organized another photowalk, which I will cover once I’ve processed the rolls of Tri-X. As usual, I met a couple new people and caught up with a few familiar faces, had some good conversations, and got (I’m hoping) some decent photos. But there was one downer to the experience, and it wasn’t the 5 minutes of rain in the evening. Rain and Tri-X go well together.
It was this:
Perhaps it is because I grew up on the Western side of the Pacific, not far from the Channel Islands where Californian Great White sharks prowl for sea lions, that this upsets me so much. Perhaps it is because over the past decade I have lived in Taipei I have seen small bits of progress in removing shark fin soup from the cultural palette. In fact, a restaurant around the corner from my apartment in Sung Shan and featured in an “expose” on the Discovery channel recently removed shark fin soup from it’s menu, although I found it odd that the expose producers felt the need to use hidden cameras. It’s not an illegal practice here nor is it shunned in any way. I guess it’s just for the visual effect. My friends and I spent a few minutes wandering around this shop freely taking photos and were greeted with nothing but smiles. That’s actually more worrisome then if I would have felt the need for a hidden camera.
How much does shark fin go for? Well, the above photo seems to have one shrink-wrapped packet on sale for NT$15,800. That’s about US$500, or the price of a decent HD TV. This of course begs the question, is this a practice that is more monetarily or culturally-driven? Obviously, on the consumer side, the answer is cultural…but there is a lot of money pushing the “cultural train”. This shop is located on the historic Din Hua street, a street famous for it’s apothecarys and traditional medicines, and it’s not the only one dealing in dead sharks.
Okay, my rant is over and I’ll get started on mixing chems so that tomorrow I can develop my film…but before I go I just want to leave you with this one thought: Every fin you see in the photo below represents a dead shark.