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China Daily Website

Shark fin off menus at Hong Kong official functions

Updated: 2013-09-29 10:18
( English.news.cn)

Shark fin is no longer to be found on the menu at government banquets in Hong Kong. Shark fin soup is a Chinese delicacy dating back to the Ming Dynasty, and is seen as a sign of social status and wealth. But now Hong Kong officials have banned its consumption, along with Bluefin tuna and black moss.

A local market in Colombo, fishermen cutting fins off the dead sharks. A harvest morning in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Hundreds of sharks captured from the ocean. The fishermen skillfully cut off their fins. Soon, buyers will come to take them away.

“These shark fins are mainly exported to Hong Kong and Singapore.”

Hong Kong accounts for around half the global market in shark fins—a delicacy the Chinese consider one of the “eight treasured foods from the sea.”

For many people here, consuming shark fin soup is a sign of social status and wealth—and a staple at upscale wedding banquets, too.

But the journey that shark fins make to this bowl of gelatinous, stringy soup starts with wholesale slaughter. Scientists estimate around 100 million sharks are killed each year to satisfy the global demand for shark fins. Conservationists say of the world’s 468 species of shark, 74 are “vulnerable,” “endangered” or “critically endangered.”

“Shark is being at the top of the food chain…If they are extinct, the whole ecosystem will be unbalanced. “ CW Cheung with World Wildlife Fund said.

The Hong Kong government recently banned shark products at official functions—a decision applauded by many Hong Kong citizens, despite their appetites.

“That’s a good idea, in the sense of killing sharks.”

Environmentalists also cheered this decision. They see the ban a victory for the worldwide shark conservation campaign.

“It’s a world’s model. This is a symbolic move, and is the right thing to do. Shark is the first food species they were putting down. They will put more items to be protected.“ Cheung said.

Many Hong Kong hotels and restaurants already stopped serving shark fin.

Reporter: “This is the popular dried seafood street in Hong Kong, where a lot of the shark fin trade takes place. Since the government announced it was taking shark fin off the menu, the seafood industry here has been suffering.”

Ten years ago, Hong Kong imported more than 12,000 tons of shark fins, which were dried, salted or preserved in brine. Last year, trade data shows the city’s shark fin imports fell to around a third of that amount. Once the world’s undisputed capital for the shark fin trade, Hong Kong is transforming itself into center for shark conservation by simply taking its fins off the menu.

Shark fin off menus at Hong Kong official functions

Shark fin off menus at Hong Kong official functions

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