Thanks to an ecclectic public awareness campaign, shark’s fin soup consumption in China has gone from a status symbol to a faux pas, and endangered shark species are getting a new lease on life:
Thanks to a former NBA star, a coalition of Chinese business leaders, celebrities and students, and some unlikely investigative journalism, eating shark fin soup is no longer fashionable here. But what really tipped the balance was a government campaign against extravagance that has seen the soup banned from official banquets.
“People said it was impossible to change China, but the evidence we are now getting says consumption of shark fin soup in China is down by 50 to 70 percent in the last two years,” said Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid, a San Francisco-based group that has promoted awareness about the shark trade. The drop is also reflected in government and industry statistics. [WaPo]
Before the public awareness campaign, the average shark fin consumer didn’t even know that the unctuous broth known as “fish wing soup” was made from shark, let alone that shark fishermen routinely butchered their prey alive and tossed the mutilated animals back into the sea to die. When he learned the truth, Jim Zhang, became an anti-shark’s fin activist, and eventually changed careers to become a full-time environmentalist.
Once the word got out, the anti-shark’s fin backlash was swift and severe. Shark’s fin’s image was further tarnished by its association with official corruption. Lavish banquets featuring shark’s fin soup because a symbol of rampant expense account abuse by bureaucrats. The price of shark’s fin is dropping and some restaurants that specialize in the dish have closed du to lack of demand.
[Photo Credit: SimonQ, Creative Commons.]