Can you image killing a leopard for its ear? Of course not. Cutting the fin off a shark and throwing the fish back into the sea to die is basically the same thing. You have a piece of cartilage and the shark forfeits its life.
Shark fin soup is a delicacy in Asia and Asian communities here in California. Making soup from the fin probably goes back to people using all parts of an animal that was caught because the resource was valuable. I had shark fin soup years ago at a wedding reception for a Chinese friend of the family. Unfortunately, the growing number of people wanting to consume this unique dish has seriously impacted shark populations because the fins are cut off of the sharks and the rest of the animal is tossed back into the sea.
This conservation problem has an easy solution. People can make the choice not to eat shark fin soup.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is supporting the California Bill (AB 376) to make it illegal to import shark fin. You can send a quick note to your state congressman to express your opinion on the matter through the Aquarium's Take Action page.
You also can make the choice to try an alternative recipe, Faux Shark Fin Soup created by chef Peter Pahk.
When we can't moderate our actions, we have to legislate them. Let's give sharks break for a while.