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China Daily Website

Shark-fin industry comments stir debate

Updated: 2012-08-17 21:43

The shark-fin industry’s defense last month of shark fishing has drawn ridicule from many Chinese netizens.

At a meeting on “sustainable use of shark,” held by the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Association in Beijing last month, industry insiders said that “refusing to consume shark fin is a tremendous waste of resources”, Guangzhou Daily reported on Friday.

This point of view has stirred a heated debate.

Organizers of the meeting say China’s traditional consumers of shark fins have been misled by claims of injustice from those in the international community who oppose hunting sharks.

Cui He, vice-president and secretary-general of the association, was quoted as saying China’s fishing industry does not target sharks exclusively. Hunting sharks as a supplement to fishing contributes to maintaining the balance of population in the sea, he said.

"Basically, the salvaged sharks cannot survive. It will become a waste of resources if we do not use them,” he added.

This viewpoint triggered controversy among netizens. Most said they were surprised and thought the argument was ridiculous.

"People can do anything using the excuse of money,” a micro-blogger named “cn laity” said on the Sina Weibo micro-blog platform.

"There is no doubt that the consumption of shark fin leads to the increase of shark fishing,” Wang Yamin, associate professor of Marine College of Shandong University at Weihai City, was quoted by Guangzhou Daily as saying. “But at the same time, as a kind of edible fish, shark resources can be utilized as long as it is rational fishing.”

It is estimated that China consumes 95 percent of the world’s shark fins. Because of the importance of shark fins in a chicken stock-based soup in a respectable Cantonese banquet in China over the years, the demand for the soup has skyrocketed in the last several decades, thanks to the growth of those who can afford the delicacy.

But many Chinese celebrities have gotten involved in the issue, rejecting shark-fin consumption.

As the ambassador of protecting shark assigned by WildAid, former NBA star Yao Ming has been active in efforts to protect endangered wildlife since 2006.


Shark-fin industry comments stir debate

Basketball star Yao Ming attends a ceremony in Shanghai to launch a campaign urging people to stop eating shark fin soup in this September 22, 2011 file photo. [Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]  

Yao once appeared in an unpaid public-service advertisement with the purpose of appealing to the public to protect shark. In the ad, he wore a disapproving scowl, pushing his shark-fin soup away in a seafood restaurant. The ads ended with Yao saying, “Remember: When the buying stops, the killing can too.”