China to Ban Shark Fin Soup at State Banquets … in 3 Years

Global shark populations are in steep decline, thanks to an economic boom in China, where shark fin soup is a delicacy.

Media reports claim the Chinese government has announced plans to stop serving shark fin soup at state banquets, but when?

The ban could take as long as three years to take affect — according to China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua.

The New York Times adds that there is uncertainty about how effective the ban will actually be “across a sprawling nation where orders issued by Beijing are often shrugged off by officials in faraway regions and provinces”.

It seems the move is part of a larger plan to remove “luxury” foods from menus for state banquets, which are funded by taxpayer dollars.

Although it is encouraging to see China taking some much-needed action, it is rather difficult to take such promises seriously while China’s wildlife farming ventures — particularly that of tigers, bears, and pangolins — continue unabated (and are even growing larger).

The soup that kills

Shark fin soup — though tasteless and void of nutrition — is a popular delicacy in Asia (particularly in China) and is, unfortunately, viewed as a status symbol amongst its consumers.

Global shark populations have been in steep decline since an economic boom in China has enabled more people to afford it.

Some species have been reduced by as much as more than 90% in just the past few decades.

Often, sharks are caught by fishermen only to have their fins sliced off while they are still alive and their still-breathing bodies are thrown back into the sea, where they sink to a slow and agonizing death.

Experts say 70 million – 100 million sharks are killed by man every year — the majority of them for their fins.

China and Hong Kong have been identified as the largest consumer nations of shark fin, and it is also served in many Asian restaurants throughout the world.

Thankfully, in recognizing the devastating impacts of shark fin trade, many state governments and even some entire nations have recently banned the possession, sale, purchase, and trade in shark fins.


Image by Jason Robertshaw via Wikimedia Commons

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Sarah Pappin is a biologist-turned-writer, with a BSc in wildlife science from Oregon State University. She has been writing about global wildlife conservation issues since 2009. When she's not blogging, she enjoys loud music, creating art, hula hooping, and being outdoors.