Activists Hope to Limit Shark Fin Trade in Hong Kong
Hong Kong, the center of the world’s shark-fin trade, has generated the attention of animal rights activists as shark populations rapidly decline.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) the global trade of shark fins has drastically increased in recent years, growing about 5% a year, with an estimated over 72 million sharks killed every year.
A video was taken showing thousands of fins being laid out to dry on a Hong Kong pavement.
[Gary Stokes, Hong Kong Sea Shepard Activist]:
"Normally in Hong Kong, obviously you can see behind us there's shark fins in all the shops and they're normally quite secretive, you can't really go in and film them, you'll be thrown out straight away. They don't like to see it. So to see it so blatantly and in such a massive scale, as we saw the other day just down a public footpath was pretty shocking. I mean, it was literally 50 meters of shark fins. And that was just when I got there, they'd already started clearing up. So, I mean, I did some rough calculations and it comes to about 21,000 sharks."
The fins are popularly used in soup across Asia, where a kilogram of shark fin powder can fetch anywhere from $25 up to $1,290. Traditionally, shark fin has been considered to have medicinal value, but now attitudes about the trade are changing.
[Keith Wong, Guitarist]:
"I like it very much. Of course it's very healthy as well, but actually there is many substitutes as well and the taste can be replaced by some fake shark soup I think."
[Arthur Lim, Office Worker]:
"In my opinion that should be banned, because the way they get the fins is not really humanize. Yes, so I think we should not eat that."
Illegal shark fishing practices include finning, when captured sharks have their fins removed, often while they are still alive, and the dying bodies are dumped back into the sea. The United States, Canada, Brazil, Namibia, South Africa and the European Union have already banned this practice.
Activists are hoping that raising awareness will help Hong Kong to take official steps to limit or ban the trade. One of Hong Kong’s most prestigious hotel chains, the Peninsula Group, took shark soup off their menu at the beginning of this year. Over one hundred other restaurants have also taken similar measures.