When it comes to shark fin soup -- and the international trade in shark fins -- the tide is finally turning, and it's all thanks to consumers.
A recent report by the conservation group WildAid found a major decrease in sales by Chinese shark fin vendors in the southern hub of the industry, Guangzhou -- a whopping 82 percent drop. What's more, 85 per cent of Chinese diners surveyed online said they had given up shark fin soup in the past three years, and two-thirds of these respondents said that awareness campaigns were the reason they stopped eating it.
Shark fin soup was once the Chinese equivalent of foie gras -- a very expensive luxury food item eaten on special occasions. It was often served at banquets and weddings, or for the arrival of an honored guest.
What many soup-eaters didn't realize is where the fins came from. In order to harvest the fins, most fishers catch the shark, then remove the fin (either on board the boat or on shore, depending on the location's regulations). Many sharks are thrown overboard finless, where they are unable to swim to pass water over their gills. They then float to the bottom of the ocean and drown.