Despite Strong Efforts, Shark Fin Still King In China

Despite the best efforts of conservationists and environmentalists, the popularity of shark fin soup in China is not fading.

A recent environmental survey in Beijing found that out of 249 luxury hotels in Beijing, Shenzhen and Fuzhou, only 17 have stopped serving shark fin soup. Most of these hotels are owned by larger multinational companies like Marriot and Sheraton.

In the Chinese market shark fin soup can sell for upwards of $320 per serving. In some restaurants it can account for 20-30 percent of revenue. Businesses are hesitant to take the delicacy off the menu as a result.

Every year around 73 million sharks are killed for their fins. In many cases sharks are caught, get their fins sliced off and are thrown back into the water.

Because of the sheer number of sharks finned every year, nearly a third of all shark species are endangered of becoming extinct. These numbers were found by a 2011 survey conducted by Pew Charitable Trust’s global shark conservation campaign.

Conservationists know the numbers and believe there is a still a reason to fight.

The Summer Palace is one of China’s most luxurious and expensive restaurants. Shark fin soup is not on their menu. The New York Times spoke with one of the hotel’s hostesses about the decision not to serve the dish. Her response:

“We took it off our menu a while ago. Environmental protection.”

Along with various top celebrities in Beijing, and a handful of other restaurants, the Summer Palace is leading a conservation effort to persuade businesses to stop serving shark’s fin.

CTV News reports that in canada a measure to ban shark fin entirely is heading to the Calgary Council.

Sharks are at the top of the oceanic food chain, and vanishing numbers will result in a major instability of the marine ecosystem.

What do you think? Should shark fishing be banned worldwide to save the species?