In a major development, the world’s main consumer of shark fins, China, has announced that it will ban shark fin soup from all official banquets. The Government Offices Administration of the State Council announced that it will take up to three years to implement the ban, but given the right circumstances this could happen quicker. While bans on the sale and consumption of shark fins have been picking up momentum around the world recently, this is the first such legislation in China. Over 95 percent of the annual harvest of shark fin worldwide is consumed on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
While cutting down on spending on lavish public banquets has been cited as a major reason for the ban, awareness in China about the negative effects of shark fin consumption on the global shark population has slowly been rising thanks in part to a WildAid ad campaign featuring Chinese basketball star Yao Ming, which Save Our Seas Foundation helped fund.
Nevertheless, enforcement of the ban may prove to be problematic in a vast country where Beijing’s directives often go unheeded by local officials.
As many as 73 million sharks are killed each year to supply the global shark fin trade, and of the shark and ray species assessed by scientists for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 30 percent are threatened or near-threatened with extinction.