Sharks fin soup has been a highly sought after delicacy of Chinese and Asian gourmets for centuries. In recent years, many educated and younger generation are foregoing sharks fin dishes for special occasions such as wedding banquets or family reunion dinner on lunar new year's eve. Some restaurants have volunteered to take sharkfin off their menu and set a good example.
Japanese innovation of making gelatine strips that look and taste like sharksfin have been around for several years now. Though the latest refinement of the technique of the producing fake sharksfin was launched in 2007, the synthetic stuff has been around for decades, just never popular or in high demand. They are increasingly being used in sushi making and adopted to many restaurant dishes such as soups and stir fry omelette. They are even easily available in chilled packets from Asian grocery stores or international sections of specialities supermarkets. The synthetic sharksfin are only a tenth of the price of the real thing.
Yet some uncaring affluent folks who want to flaunt their wealth and status with ostentatious goods are willing to fork out a high price for the "real" sharksfin. They disregard the cruelty and ecological damage just to satisfy their fastidious palates and appetites.
In reality, many culinary experts and chefs have admitted that a small proportion of fake sharksfin is added to the genuine expensive ones which have become very rare. Apparently it is not illegal unless the customer specifically requests for genuine sharksfin.
So you may ask, what is the big deal about converting totally converting to fake sharksfin and give the sea creatures a break and living space.
The only cons of fake sharksfin is that it dissolves more easily in hot water and there could be religious or health objections as the gelatine is believed to be extracted from pork bones.
More Food for Thought : Alternatives to Sharksfin and Meat
Vegetarian friends make a tasty soup using mung bean or sweet potato vermicelli (glass noodles) and fibrous "sharksfin" green melon with soy bean stock.
So you see, there is no excuse insisting on sharksfin. It's high time to save the sharks and stop the cruelty.