China to Ban Shark Fin Soup at Official Banquets

Fresh shark fins drying on sidewalk

Shark fins drying on a sidewalk. (Image by cloneofsnake via Flickr)

CNN reports that China is planning to ban shark fin soup from official banquets. Shark fin soup is widely served in restaurants in Chinese communities worldwide and traditionally served at weddings.

…the [Chinese] Government Office Administration of the State Council said the ban could take up to three years to implement and would help cut the cost of sometimes lavish banquets held for state functions.

The move followed a proposal made during the National People’s Congress in March this year.

Bertha Lo of the campaign group Hong Kong Shark Foundation said the move could potentially reduce the amount of sharks killed given that China is the biggest consumer of shark fin products.

“I think it will have an impact,” she said. “The government in China is powerful and if it takes the lead on this issue, I don’t see why others shouldn’t follow suit.”

Between 26 million and 73 million sharks are estimated to be killed each year, according to a 2006 academic study quoted on the website of Lo’s group. Their carcasses are usually discarded and campaigners say the practice is wasteful and cruel.

Outside Asia, legislation banning shark fin has been introduced in five U.S. states including California, which this month also banned the French duck liver delicacy foie gras on the grounds of cruelty.

Read the full story at CNN

Shark fishing, including the practice of shark finning, has taken an enormous toll on sharks which have declined by roughly 90 percent worldwide over the past 50 years. According to World Wildlife Fund, 81 species of shark are under threat today, up from 15 in 1996.

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