Shark's Fin Soup isn't especially tasty – the main flavoring comes from chicken broth – but serving it to guests is a reflection on the host's wealth and prestige. With tens of millions of Chinese in Upwardly Mobile mode and eager to show it, shark populations are taking a nosedive to the tune of 73 million annually with 95% of the fins consumed within mainland China.
Environmental activists have been beating the drum against harvesting sharks for their fins for some time now, and they're beginning to see results as several Canadian cities and west coast states including California have officially banned the sale of shark's fin.
Symbolic though they may be, the bans may be the start of a trend that could snowball and actually make a difference to sharks should it take hold where the vast majority of fins are consumed.
The proposed ban is loosely worded at best, however. According to Xinhua, “within one to three years, the country's State Council plans to release guidelines banning shark's fin from being served at official receptions.”
Vague as this sounds, activists still hope the tone and source of the announcement will influence those who consume shark's fin to reduce or even eliminate it from their plates.
In response to the announcement, Humane Society International stated it marked a “watershed moment for the global movement to protect sharks and pushes China onto the world's stage as an emerging leader in shark conservation.”
Yes, you read that right... and yes, stranger things have happened. In the meantime, Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong continues to process 10,000 tons of shark's fin annually and the city's government has no plans to ban Shark's Fin Soup from their own official banquets. In fact, according to Tracy Tsang of the WWF, the Hong Kong government “repeatedly dodged the question” whenever activists raise the issue with representatives. Maybe they were too busy enjoying their lunch. (via WSJ China Realtime Report and Forbes)