Chinese support shark conservation, but still demand shark fin
May 25, 2007
There is growing public support in China for shark conservation measures, but little understanding of the role of shark finning in declining shark populations, reveals a survey by WildAid, an environmental group.
Shark fin soup, a delicacy served at Chinese weddings and high profile banquets, is believed by many Chinese to bring good health. WildAid found that few Chinese know the low nutritional value of the product or understand how shark fin is produced. The group faulted Chinese media for doing little to publicize shark conservation or the negative impacts resulting from eating shark's fins.
Demand for shark fin is presently at an all time high, thanks largely to a rapidly expanding middle class in China. A study published last year estimated that 26 to 73 million sharks are killed each year for the global shark fin trade, while reported world trade in fins has surged from 4,900 metric tons in 1987 to 13,600 metric tons in 2004.
Blue shark photo by Greg Skomal (sanctuaries.noaa.gov).
WildAid's research, based on surveys carried out in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou between November 2005 to February 2006, suggests that public awareness campaigns could help stem the shark fin trade in China, since there appears to be positive public attitude towards shark conservation activities.
"This survey shows two key things: first that consumers are largely unaware of where shark fin comes from, of over-fishing, illegal shark fishing or finning and secondly, that there is strong support for much better shark conservation and management," said Trent. "WildAid believes that action is needed now to ensure better management and conservation if shark populations and species are not to be made extinct. China, we believe can take a highly responsible, global lead in this."
The article is based on a news release from WildAid