Traders say demand for shark fin has fallen.
WildAid’s campaign to reduce use of shark fin is making a huge impact in Asia by decreasing the demand for and the import-export business of shark fin. According to the South China Morning Post, the Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong reported that shark fin imports have reduced from 10,292 tons to 3,087 tons from 2011 to November 2012; over a 70% decline.
Additionally, the chairman of the Hong Kong-based Shark Fin Trade Merchants Association told the South China Morning Post “the whole industry has recorded a 50% decrease of sales in the last year…mainly due to the omnipresent advocacy by green groups. According to the report, “Hong kongers consume about 10 per cent of [their] imports…the rest is shipped to China, the US, Canada and Malaysia for Chinese there to consume."
China's leading investigative reporting show, "Focus Report,” which airs during primetime on CCTV, recently featured the shark fin trade in an unfavorable light. In one expose they estimated that 40% of "shark fin" sold in China was in fact fake shark fin made out of gelatin, mung bean starch, seaweed gum, and using what it described as "harsh chemicals". Many restaurants in Beijing, Guangdong, Zhejiang, and Fujian are making money by serving fake shark fin, but still charging the same price as real shark fin (at times worth 1,000 yuan / $160 per bowl). A Zhejiang consumer rights protection agency, as reported by China Daily, collected 10 samples shark fin soup from local restaurants and found that none of the samples contained any actual shark DNA.
Zhejiang authorities have found that some fake shark fin contains high levels of Cadmium, a toxic metal used in batteries. Dried shark fin sold in markets also has traces of Cadmium and Methyl Mercury. The chemicals used to imitate the unique shark fin texture are often toxic. Those who consume the fake or even real shark fin may risk damage to their livers, kidneys and other organs. Pregnant women who ingest excessive levels of mercury may harm the development of their unborn children.
WildAid continues to remain at the forefront of shark conservation through our highly leveraged media campaigns. While these findings offer signs of significant progress, sharks still face danger of extinction without our continued efforts.