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Happy hearts love sharks not soup

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Summary of story from Burnaby Now, July 8, 2011

‘Happy Hearts Love Sharks’ is the name of Shark Truth’s annual contest for betrothed couples, challenging them to forgo the tradition of eating shark fin soup at Chinese weddings.

Founded in 2009 by Chinese woman Claudia Li, the non-profit group aims to educate people about the rapid decline of shark populations and to stop the farming of sharks in order to make shark fin soup.

The valuable fins are typically turned into soup and often served at Chinese weddings. It is part of something called the “big four,” Claudia Li explains.

Abalone, shark fin, fish maw and sea cucumber are the four dishes wealthy families often serve.

The groom’s family often pays for the wedding banquet, Li adds, and serving shark fin soup is a sign of prosperity.

‘It’s just like this ingrained tradition that a bride marrying into a family without shark fin is marrying into a poor family,’ she says.

But Li estimates that for every 10 bowls of soup, one shark perishes.

This year the “Happy Hearts Love Sharks” contest’s grand prize is a trip for two to Hawaii to dive with sharks.

Last year’s winning couple, with 680 wedding guests, saved about 68 sharks from slaughter. In the past two years, since the start of the organization, Li figures the group has diverted 8,600 bowls of soup, saving 860 sharks.

There are more than 400 species of sharks, but many types can be used for shark fin soup.

Numbers vary, due to limited data, but estimates on the number of sharks killed annually can range from 10 million to 73 million, with median figures at 38 million.

Li has 10 people working in her group. Their goal is to eliminate shark fin soup in Canada in the next five to 10 years.

She plans to “franchise” her wedding contest model so that other organizations can copy the idea, and she wants to start a cooking contest with an anti-shark fin twist.

If Li gets married, she plans to do things her way.

‘Definitely not shark fins. Probably on the beach, with no shoes and a white slip. Very non-traditional,’ she says, laughing.

  1. Good for her! Bravo.

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