President Donald Trump reportedly set aside his beloved overcooked steak and ketchup in favor of shark-fin soup during his visit to Vietnam.
According to the Associated Press, the president had the local delicacy at a state dinner in Hanoi, completely clueless to the fact that its consumption is driving sharks to extinction. Trump made no comment about the shark-fin soup when it was presented to him, according to the White House pool reports, even though it should have rung alarm bells in his head since shark-finning is illegal in the United States. But it’s possible the oblivious president does not know — or care — about this issue.
Shark-fin soup is particularly popular in China where a single bowl can cost as much as $400. More than 70 million sharks are killed each year to satisfy the demand for the soup. Fishermen catch the shark, cut off its fins (probably without anesthesia) and then dump the poor fish back into the water. Without its fins, the shark cannot swim, sinks to the bottom of the ocean and die a slow and painful death.
According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the practice has led to “an extinction crisis for many shark species.” Because of this reason, shark-finning is regulated in 21 countries and banned in the United States. The 2010 Shark Conservation Act requires all sharks — apart from the smooth dogfish — to be brought to shore with their fins intact on their carcasses. However, the sale, trade and possession of shark fins is illegal in only a few states, including California, due to which shark-fin soup is available in a many restaurants around the country.
In fact, Trump’s failed Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, allegedly served shark-fin soup in 2013. Some internet users called for Trump to remove the item from the menu to which Trump replied with this sarcastic tweet:
He then explained his own feelings regarding the magnificent animals.
“Sorry folks, I'm just not a fan of sharks — and don't worry, they will be around long after we are gone,” he wrote, completely unaware of the fact that animal conservationists have been fighting for years to save the species from extinction.
President Trump dined on shark fin soup in Vietnam— Shark Defenders (@SharkDefenders) November 13, 2017
They must have been all out of well done streak and ketchup
Sharks are skinned, then thrown back in the ocean to die slowly and painfully. It's driving them to extinction. And @realDonaldTrump responds to outrage saying "Sharks are last on my list - other than perhaps the losers and haters of the World!" https://t.co/SDDqcHUIg3— Will Potter (@will_potter) November 14, 2017
During his trip to Vietnam Trump dined on shark fin soup. The man has no soul.— Touré (@Toure) November 14, 2017
IFAW CEO and President Azzedine Downes thinks Trump’s supremely unconcerned attitude to the well being of sharks does not bode well for the future of the species.
“We are dismayed at the news that President Trump was served and ate shark-fin soup during the recent state visit to Vietnam,” Azzedine Downes, president and CEO of IFAW, said in a statement. “Dozens of shark species are listed as vulnerable or endangered worldwide. Actions like this undermine global conservation efforts and signal to world leaders that the US is abandoning its leadership role.”
"This careless act demonstrates that @POTUS does not understand the plight of endangered species worldwide. Shark finning has led to an extinction crisis for many species and horrible death for those sharks finned." - IFAW President, CEO @AzzedineTDownes. https://t.co/wMoQ0q603R— IFAW (@action4ifaw) November 14, 2017
This was not the only controversial food Trump ate in Vietnam.
The fifth of the seven-course dinner menu in Vietnam contained fish maw or fish bladder, which is threatening two endangered fish species in the Gulf of Mexico.
In Seoul, Trump sampled shrimp caught near the islands of Dokdo disputed with Tokyo.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: REUTERS, Athit Perawongmetha