More auspicious than delicious, shark fin is rubbery in both taste and texture. While its flavor is muted, a bowl of shark fin soup says plenty in traditional Chinese culture: The hosts have money and they’re generous enough to spread it around.

But in Asia, the soup’s culinary home turf, the dish is increasingly regarded as, well, tasteless. Anti-finning advocates, armed with gruesome facts about threatened shark species, are attacking shark fin’s reputation as a status-boosting delicacy. Their mission: to see the culinary tradition die off before the sharks do.