Is The Shark Fin Trade In Decline?

That’s what a shark trader in Hong Kong who was interviewed by the BBC says:

Mr Ho says that the anti-shark fin campaigns are starting to hurt traders as he points to dozens of bags of processed shark fins that line the front of his shop. He says that a few years ago, the fins would have been sold immediately after they finished cleaning them. “Now they’re stockpiling in the shop. It’s tough to sell them,” he says, claiming that his sales dropped by 60% in 2012.

Shark fin traders say their sales have been hurt amid protests by environmental groups. And it is not just Mr Ho who has seen a decline in sales. Statistics from the Hong Kong government show that imports of raw and prepared shark’s fin between 2006 and 2011 ranged from 9,400 to 10,300 metric tonnes a year.

Much of the imports are consumed in Hong Kong or re-exported to mainland China. Conservation groups say that the Chinese territory accounts for half of the global trade. However, last year imports into the territory dropped by a third to 3,350 metric tonnes.

At the same time, Chinese authorities are also clamping down on lavish banquets, which traditionally served the shark fin soup. “That is hitting the shark fin industry hard,” says Mr Ho. Meanwhile, the anti-shark fin campaigns have resulted in some five-star hotels in the Chinese territory removing shark’s fin from the menu. Even flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific Airlines, has banned shark fin on cargo flights.

I’ll take any stats reported by a trader and Hong Kong officials with a grain of salt. But, if even partly true, it is an encouraging trend. Especially if the global take of sharks is indeed in the 100 million range.

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