Shark Fin Trade In Decline
Shark finning. The practice is all based on looking prestigious, but it’s been killing thousands upon thousands of sharks, resulting in some species of shark diminishing in numbers by over 60 percent, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Lately though, things might be changing.
Looking back at the tradition, the act of eating shark fin dates all the way to the Ming Dynasty. Historically speaking, it was considered to be an act done only by royalty. Chinese emperors are reported as desiring the fin due to the extensive preparation and cooking methods needed to make it delectable. Most often the tough shark fin is cooked in a soup that takes hours to become ready. By the time that the soup is eaten the shark meat falls off in tender strips.
This connection of an appearance of wealth with eating shark fin soup has been transpiring for centuries in China. It is estimated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature that of the 1,000-plus species of shark, nearly 200 are considered to be in threat of extinction. Of the sharks that are being threatened there are three species that are currently being looked after by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species: the great white, whale shark and basking shark. The Convention is currently considering adding more species to the list of threatened shark species.
This concern for shark species’ wellbeing must be getting some notice because there is a shift occurring in the societal acceptance of shark fin soup. According to business reports in China, the store owners selling dried and processed shark fins are finding a decline occurring with business sells. Some shopkeepers are finding a drop in sales as big as 60 percent for the 2012 year.
Why is this shift in consumerism occurring? There are a few different reasons there might be a change happening when it comes to consuming shark fins.
First, there have been large campaigns explaining the issues connected with the process of shark finning. These campaigns may be connected to the decrease in importation of shark fins to China over the last five years as well as a drop in Chinese sales by a third for 2012. A second cause for decline might be associated with governmental decrease of using the soup in their lavish banquet parties, in addition to having fewer parties over all. This major consumer of shark fins is a giant hit to the success of shark fin sellers. This decrease in sales is not only being seen in the home and in the government. Businesses like five-star hotels and high class airlines such as Cathay Pacific Airlines are discontinuing the offering of shark fin soup as a part of their services.
For those that enjoy the soup the most (half of all shark fin consumed is eaten in China according to conservation organizations), the change might be strange. But for those that didn’t grow up with the soup, it doesn’t seem to be much of a problem. Many younger people in China actually appreciate that shark fin is not being served at weddings, formal parties and banquets. In their eyes, the sharks need to be conserved. For the elderly, this tradition still holds meaning. The status associated with eating such a prestigious meal has clout. For that reason alone, shark fin soup won’t be cut off the menu completely by tomorrow.
But the time may be soon. Shifts are occurring. From awareness to governmental regulation changes, the sharks seem to be getting the care and attention that they deserve from us humans.