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Great white shark meat cooking video gets Chinese food vlogger fined

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 1/31/2023 Emily Heil

A food influencer in China was slapped with a fine of 125,000 yuan, or about $18,500, after posting a video of herself purchasing, cooking and eating a great white shark. Police in Nanchong, in Sichuan province, said in a statement on Saturday that they levied the fine after determining that the fish featured in the viral video was covered by the country’s wildlife protection laws.

The police said that the woman, whom they identified only as Jin — who goes by the on-screen name Tizi — purchased the shark at a market on April 13 and that her videos featuring the animal were widely watched on social media platforms Kuaishou and Douyin in July, where they attracted a number of comments criticizing her. Police said that during their investigation, they used “the DNA barcode of a residual tissue sample from the shark” to determine that it was, in fact, a protected species.

Police also said the two men who caught and sold her the shark, whom they identified as “Mr. Shen and Mr. Yan,” had been arrested. Police said she paid 7,700 yuan or $1,140 for it, using the shopping site Taobao.

In the video, Jin is shown picking the shark up, and she makes much of how massive it is, at one point lying down next to it to show that it is longer than she is. She proceeds to transfer it to a home, where nearby villagers look on in interest. She explains to the camera that she will prepare the shark using local ingredients, and then sets about preparing it: Its lower half is roasted while the upper half, including the head, is cooked in a spicy broth.

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After documenting the extensive cooking process, Jin and several others enthusiastically consume the fish in the final moments of the video. “We worked on cooking this shark all day and now we’re finally able to eat it!” one says, while another proclaims it to be “sooo good.”

Jin reportedly told local media after the video stirred controversy that she had acquired the shark through “legal channels,” but officials said at the time that her statement was “inconsistent with the facts” and police were looking into the incident.

Great white sharks are classified as “vulnerable” — a step below endangered — by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Police in China said it was listed as a protected species under the country’s National Wild Animal Protection Laws.


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