Editor’s note: CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril returns this year to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines of this worldwide battle. Ling has been a co-host of The View, correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show, National Geographic and Channel One. She filed this blog from Taiwan on how shark-finning operations that have helped deplete the oceans of more than 90 percent of shark species.
AC360° special correspondent
Arrived in Taipei after flying 13 hours from LA. After looking for lost luggage and equipment–which is standard these days–we hopped into a car for a 4-hour drive to the south.
I have spent a fair amount of time in Taiwan as my mother is from here. It's one of my favorite countries to visit primarily because the food is so excitingly exotic and delicious.
The irony is that we are here to report on the impact that the overfishing of sharks is having on the overall shark population and how it's affecting the ocean's ecosystem. Shark meat and shark skin are used for food and textiles, but the most desirable part of a shark is its fins. Shark Fin Soup is one of the great delicacies in Asia–particularly China. It symbolizes wealth and prosperity. One is not considered a good host if he/she omits Shark Fin Soup from a celebratory dinner.
As a Chinese American, I grew up eating shark fin soup on special occasions. Like many people, I had no idea that shark finning was such a devastating procedure. The fins are 1/20 of the entire shark, yet they are being stripped off the animals leaving the sharks to sink to the ocean floor and die horribly slow torturous deaths.
Now, with Asia's rapid economic rise, shark fins are being consumed not just for special occasions, but are becoming commonplace.
While en route to southern Taiwan today, I asked to stop for my favorite snack: fish ball dumplings. Yes, I love a fish ball.
In Taiwan, the gas stations have fabulous foodcourts that sell every kind of dumpling imaginable. Three of my team ordered an assortment of dumplings and sure enough, a couple happened to be shark fin. The total for about 10 dumplings was about $7.
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