What's This?Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang with US President Donald Trump during a state dinner in Hanoi.
Image: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
Donald Trump's eventful 12-day trip around Asia has come to an end, but not without sparking some controversy.
The Associated Press reported that while at a state dinner in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Nov. 11, Trump was slurping on shark fin soup — a culinary delicacy that requires shark finning, or the brutally violent process of killing sharks, to make.
Though the dish is popular in China, the meal is causing outrage among animal rights and environmental activists who oppose shark finning, which involves catching sharks, slicing off their fins, and tossing them back into the water to die.
Around 70 million sharks are killed for soup each year using the method, which has the potential to drive sharks to extinction, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). It's currently being debated by congress.
Earlier this month, Lora Snyder of , a non-profit organization committed to ocean conservation, reportedly told House members, "The demand for these fins fuels shark finning, the act of slicing the fins off a shark and dumping its body back at sea where it will drown, bleed to death or be eaten alive by other fish," according to E&E News.
And Mission Blue — renowned marine biologist Sylvia Earle’s organization that works to protect the oceans and sea creatures, like sharks, that live there — has also argued against the shark fin trade.
In an article on Mission Blue's website, Mariah Pfleger — a marine scientist at Oceana — wrote the demand for the fins is a "major contributor to shark mortality" and feels it should be banned. "According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the United States is still importing fins from places like Hong Kong, China, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa and Indonesia, to name a few," Pfleger wrote.
Though pool reports show Trump appeared to make no comment on the soup, perhaps some sort of warning should have gone off in his head — seeing as how his own country is actively making an effort to completely remove itself from the shark fin trade.
In 2010, Congress passed the Shark Conservation Act (SCA), making it illegal to fin a shark at sea in the United States. And since then, several states and territories, including California, Hawaii, and New York, have individually banned the possession, sale, and distribution of shark fins.
Not to mention the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act was introduced to the Senate and House of Representatives in March. If passed the bill would make it illegal to participate in the shark fin trade in the United States.
While the soup Trump consumed did contain shark fin, it also included several other types of seafood, as confirmed by the Associated Press report:
On the menu: steamed rice powder rolls “with fluffy pemmican”; shrimp rolled in fried egg; a seafood soup made with fish maw, shrimp, scallop and shark fin; and Dong Tao chicken rolled with lotus and mushrooms.
No word on whether Trump squeezed ketchup in his soup or asked for his shark fin to be well done.