Facing huge pressure from conservationists around the world, the Chinese government recently announced that shark fin soup will likely be banned from official banquets within the next one to three years.
According to WildAid, the organization that made headlines when it enlisted Chinese basketball star Yao Ming to make an anti-shark finning Public Service Announcement, the administration’s decision came in response to a proposal submitted by 30 officials from the National People’s Congress, spearheaded by delegate Ding Liguo, who announced the news on his microblog on Friday.
As it’s name indicates, shark fin soup is made from the fins of the shark. Unfortunately, it requires a brutal and wasteful process whereby the shark’s fins are hacked off while the animal is still alive, and the entirety of the carcass is tossed back into the ocean. Over 95 percent of the annual harvest of shark fin worldwide is consumed on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, according to a news report by people.com.cn.
Back in November 2011, Peninsula Hotels, Asia’s oldest hotel company, announced they would stop serving shark fin in its hotel restaurants and banquet operations. Shortly thereafter, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, which operates 72 luxury hotels worldwide, announced in January 2012 that it would no longer serve shark fins at any of its properties.
Over the past few years, many different countries have joined the fight against the shark finning industry by banning their sale, trade, and possession. In 2011, both Guam and Chile banned shark finning in their waters. Just this week, Illinois became the fifth state in the U.S. (and the second largest) to pass a ban on shark fin products, joining Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and California. A similar law is now under consideration in New York.
“With this public commitment, China has emerged as a leader in shark conservation and has the potential to stabilize shark populations and maintain the health of our oceans,” said Peter Knights, Executive Director of WildAid. ”A ban on all shark fin imports to China that cannot be clearly proven to be sustainably and humanely fished would be the logical next step to achieve this.”
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