Chinese Restaurant Owner Found With Dozens of Threatened Turtles Killed For Soup But Is Allowed To Simply Pay Fine

220px-Apalone_spiniferaThe spiny freshwater turtle population is less than 1000 according to Canadian reports, but they found a windfall of dozens of the turtles recently. The problem is that they were dead and on a Chinese menu. Yet, the Chinese owner will face only a relatively small fine for this violation. In killing and sell these turtles for soup (and contributing to the possible loss of a species) the owner will face less of a penalty than a car theft or bad check.


The gruesome find was made at the Fortune Seafood Restaurant. Da Zhao Jian, owner of Fortune Seafood Restaurant on Midland Ave., had the soft-shell turtles on the menu for consumption. He was convicted of unlawful possession of the spiny softshell turtles under the Endangered Species Act and of listing a protected species for sale under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. However, these two charges only bring a $5000 fine each so he will walk with just a $10,000 fine. No jail time.

He has refused to tell people where he got the threatened turtles. That explains the lack of deterrent for the black market of turtles which are particularly valued by Chinese consumers.

We have discussed the loss of species and reduction of populations to feed the Chinese market. About 20 years ago, I was on a delegation to Taiwan and one of my areas of discussion was environmental protection. On the flight over to Taipei, our government sanctioned the Taiwan government for the sale of endangered species body parts in medicines and products. When I arrived, that is all the President and ministers wanted to discuss. They were quite angry and insisted that you could not buy such things as tiger bone on the island.

After days of denials, I decided to investigate the matter myself. I left the meeting early and got into a cab. The Justice minister had just denied that such products were openly sold in Taiwan so I asked the cab driver where I could buy tiger bone. He immediately said “Snake alley.” He offered to drive me that night and I accepted. After driving through the city that night, he walked me down a narrow alley with underaged girl prostitutes on either side behind thin curtains. It was horrible with some girls who looked as young as ten. We then emerged in Snake alley — so named because people often came to drink snake blood as an aphrodisiac. I watched as one large snake was killed and drained into a pint cup and given to a young man. The snake’s beating heart was placed on the table in front of him. He paid a wad of money and drank the blood and was served a snake soup. In addition to open sex acts on display, there was a wide array of endangered species body parts for sale from dozens of open tables. I bought a few and took them to the meeting the next day. I explained that it took me literally minutes to find a place to buy these. The minister looked shocked and then had an interesting response. Instead of again denying the availability of such products, he said that the Chinese culture is ancient and that he can personally attest that these ancient remedies work.

The preference for exotic animals in the Chinese market has deep cultural roots. I have been to China and spoken with environmentalists who have bravely fought not just the government but this cultural insensitivity of such issues. However, the Canadian case shows the continued disconnect between environmental crimes and other crimes. We still do not treat these violations as seriously as they warrant. When the low sanctions are put next to the strong cultural preferences, the result is inevitable. Even with only 1000 such turtles recorded by the government, selling these turtles is treated as little more than a cost of doing business by some.

What is particularly alarming is that there is no indication that the owner supplied information on the dealers or trappers of these turtles. He was just fined and sent on his way sans his hoard of dead threatened turtles.

Source: The Star

34 thoughts on “Chinese Restaurant Owner Found With Dozens of Threatened Turtles Killed For Soup But Is Allowed To Simply Pay Fine”

  1. Maybe the folks couldn’t read well …. They mistook it do tar pan…..

  2. Few Americans ever get to travel in Mongolia. I did once many years ago. The little hotel we stayed out had a menu printed in English. Now I know why they called it Dick Soup. I thought they had mispelled Duck.

  3. pete, Great idea since we all know it takes 30 Chinese penises to feed one person.

  4. A day or so ago I saw this- yea’ 10% of an entire endangered species:

    http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-03/smuggler-gets-caught-smuggling-more-10-percent-entire-species

    which was a couple of days after I saw the article about the 200+ Pangolins, just do a search and pick any article really, they’re good eating:

    http://tinyurl.com/cc9s92f

    and I thought that zoos ought to just pay mercs (like Blackwater/XE/whatever it’s calling itself now to engage smugglers to buy live endangered species of these things that end up on menus all over Southeast Asia and China and bring them back to the zoo. The zoos should become arks for these species just as many have for other endangered species. Not just acquire a couple of breeding pairs but as many as they can.

    The Government should encourage it and remove legal impairments and people like Bill Gates should get his head a little closer to the dirt and his foundation (at 300+ billions) ought to pay for building large appropriate habitats. Just counting down to the last XXXX isn’t responsible and even with all of the interdiction the numbers keep dwindling. Using the Nature Conservancy model on these critters would seem to work better than what is going on now.

    Earth first damnit!

  5. But Nick, 10 year old prostitutes (sex-slaves is a more apt label) are not an endangered species in China, or just about anywhere else. Child prostitution is big business everywhere. If the Professor had looked he probably would have found children younger than that for sale and closer to home. That’s why the story was about the turtles. But yea’, it’s disturbing as he**.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_of_children

  6. It does not matter if it is endangered species, 10 year old prostitutes, or underage slave labor making iphones and polo shirts. When it comes to China, it is all okay. Politicians are whores, and they are paid by corporate masters who benefit from all of those things.

    If you keep expecting honesty and justice from people for whom it is not even a passing thought (politicians), then you will be continually disappointed.

    On that note, I wonder if Joe Biden, champion of the working folks, has caught Air Force Two for the weekly 100 mile flight back home yet?

  7. nick:

    “Maybe it’s just me, but the 10 year old prostitutes is MUCH more disturbing to me than some freakn’ turtles,”

    yep

  8. Why endangered turtles?
    Why not just regular turtles. Are endangered turtles tastier, easier to catch, cheaper to buy? More prestigious to eat?

    Doesn’t make any sense. Like a story that is just too good not to write.

  9. I suppose they think civilization is only going to get a fine for what it is doing to the Earth we need in order to survive.

    Scientists are calling this The Anthropocene Epoch and The Sixth Mass Extinction.

    If it continues, it may end up being The Anthropocene Extinction.

  10. Maybe it’s just me, but the 10 year old prostitutes is MUCH more disturbing to me than some freakn’ turtles,

  11. “I dont think they are necessarily endangered as they do exist in the US in many areas.

    We used to catch them as kids.”

    The same thing probably could have been said about Passenger Pigeons at one point.

  12. I dont think they are necessarily endangered as they do exist in the US in many areas.

    We used to catch them as kids.

  13. Snake Alley: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villiany.

    When areas such as this are permitted or at least ignored it tends to feed on itself and be a center of all sorts of vice, in this case child prostitution and illegal animal sales. (and who knows what else). Sometimes officials view the area as benign so long as what goes on there stays there. I don’t agree with this but it seems to be the case in many places.

    A fine such as the one here could be viewed as just a cost of doing business. If the restaurant’s owner attracted much business from selling these animal dishes it might have been worth the risk. Jailing him and revoking his business license permanently would have a stronger deterrant effect.

  14. I would expect better from our Canadian friends. I didn’t realize that Chinese restaurant owners are too big to jail!
    Prof.,
    please be careful on your next expose investigation!!

Comments are closed.