MVP’s for the Environment: Yao Ming
Yao Ming, the Houston Rockets basketball star may be one of the few athletes making a basket for sustainability. He has definitely made an assist when it comes to speaking out about the prohibition of shark fin soup in China and sustainability has the position of playing center. With China gaining momentum as one of the worst for green house gases in the world it can be refreshing to see that someone cares about the other environmental issues out there (not that climate change isn’t important!) Yao Ming is so adamant about abolishing shark fin soup that he has pledged to never eat the Chinese delicacy again. While Ming has made a slam dunk attempt to rid the expensive dish from his menu many of his fellow Chinese do not see eye to eye, and it is not because Yao is seven foot six. The shark delicacy has for many centuries been an honorable dish in Chinese culture. The soup is predominantly served at weddings and special banquets. In recent years with the rise of the Chinese economy, more and more of the shark fin soup has been made affordable to the population receiving market wealth. The demand has basically grown with the economy.
The controversial and unsustainable part of the expensive dish comes with the actual “finning” of the shark itself. Once caught by fisherman the fins of the shark are removed, while the body of the, still alive shark, is thrown back into the sea. The shark sinks to the bottom of the ocean unable to swim where it slowly dies. This could pose an altering threat to marine ecosystems since the shark is at the top of the food chain. According to Wildaid, a wildlife foundation formed on the mission of spreading awareness of illegally poached and trafficked animals, around 100 million sharks are harvested annually.
Yao sets a great example for environmental protection and he should be appreciated not only for his talents but for his ability to be a role model as well. The practice of shark “finning” needs to become more sustainable, for the environment and for the viability of the dish.