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Whether to consume shark fin stirs controversy in China

08-31-2012 13:27 BJT

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For several years, there’s been a campaign to end shark fin consumption, as much as for the way the fins are harvested, as for the overhunting of the fish. But now the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Association are saying "refusing to consume shark fin is a tremendous waste of resources". The statement has stirred a heated debate.

Shark fin has long been a luxury dish at banquets in China. And the aquatic products industry wants it to remain that way. One association is preparing a white paper that appeals to traditional culture and claims it would be a great waste of resources if people boycott shark fin.

The Chief Representative of China for Wild Aid opposes this view.

Shark Fin Soup     (Total Votes: Loading)
1.Would you order shark fin soup?
A. Yes
B. No
C. I am not sure
2.Why do you think people want to eat shark fin?
A. Shark fin soup should be served during important events
B. It displays the host's wealth
C. It suggests that the guests are highly esteemed
D. It's delicious
E. Other
3.Why don’t you think people should eat shark fin?
A. We should protect sharks
B. They may be not healthy to eat
C. Other

May Mei, Chief China Representative of Wild Aid, said, "We don’t think it’s a waste, to protect the marine eco-system."

A senior industry official insists that hunting sharks as part of the overall catch contributes to maintaining the marine population balance.

China’s fishing industry does not exclusively target sharks. Hunting sharks as a supplement to fishing contributes to maintaining the population balance in the sea.

The demand for shark fin soup has skyrocketed as growing numbers of Chinese can afford the delicacy. That’s an estimated 79 million sharks killed each year, just for their fins.

May Mei said, "Shark normally is on the top of the eco-system. So if shark populations are wiped out from the eco-system, it will have a devastating impact on other species within the marine environment, some of commercially valuable species are needed for food, employment and income."

Public awareness is beginning to take hold.

A Chinese consumer said, "I don’t order shark-fins dish in the restaurant since I think it’s too brutal and over-spending."

And basketball star Yao Ming is just one of many Chinese celebrities who are active in efforts to protect the endangered species.

Experts say shark fin soup is a precious delicacy, but using inhumane methods to procure the ingredients may be a step too far. While boycotting is unlikely to significantly change public attitudes toward this dish of such cultural importance and popularity, it might spark authorities to take action and regulate the industry.

Experts say shark fin soup is a precious delicacy, but using inhumane methods
to procure the ingredients may be a step too far.

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Editor:Wang Chuhan |Source: CCTV.com

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