GrubHub, the country’s largest online food delivery service, has announced that it will no longer enable its restaurants to sell shark fin, a deeply controversial food product that has devastated global shark populations, many of which are critically endangered.
According to ocean conservation group Oceana, an estimated 73 million sharks are killed each year to meet the demand for shark fin soup, which is particularly popular throughout China — though surveys of Chinese citizens have indicated that the majority — 75 percent — did not know that the dish, which translates to “fish wing soup” in Mandarin, even called for shark fin. Another 19 percent believed that the shark’s fins grew back, when in fact, sharks cannot survive without their fins.
Though shark finning is illegal in the United States, fins have been bought and sold in the States by vendors who obtain them from countries where the practice is not banned, or is poorly regulated. New York State prosecuted a Brooklyn vendor for the sale of shark fin as recently as September.
“GrubHub has made the decision to no longer allow restaurants to sell shark fin dishes on our platforms,” the company said in a statement. “We deeply value our relationships with restaurants that provide Chinese cuisine on GrubHub and feel this is the right choice to protect the world's endangered species. We have been in touch with our affected restaurants to communicate the change and will continue to partner with our network of 35,000 restaurants to help them meet the evolving needs of today’s diner.”
In a press release praising GrubHub’s corporate leadership, Oceana encouraged other businesses to follow in the company’s footsteps. “The bottom line is that sharks are worth infinitely more swimming in our oceans than in a bowl of soup,” said Lora Snyder, Oceana campaign director.