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Hold the shark fin; I’m honest and humble

Image courtesy of WikipediaChina’s crackdown on corruption is having a positive impact in an unexpected way. It’s causing a drop in demand for shark fin soup — good news for those working to save sharks.

“We are seeing a reduction in demand from China. Hong Kong is also showing a significant decline in consumption,” Angelo Villagomez, a shark specialist with U.S.-based conservation group the Pew Charitable Trusts, told APF Sunday.

Shark fin soup dates back at least 500 years. It became popular in China at weddings, banquets, and festival meals. The dish symbolizes the wealth, power, and prestige of the host. And it shows respect and honor to guests. A bowl of shark fin soup can cost more than $100.

Villagomez said the recent drop in demand for shark fin soup can be traced directly to the Chinese leadership’s crackdown on graft and extravagance.

A year ago, President Xi Jinping imposed regulations on government and party officials that mandate a ‘frugal working style.’ Those regulations — and a wave of high-profile anti-graft investigations — are causing officials to throttle back on displays of extravagance.

Villagomez said another factor is the changing culture in Asia, with young people eating less shark fin than their parents.

Shark sanctuaries will be on the agenda this week at the Pacific Islands Forum, the annual summit of Pacific heads of state. This year the event is being held in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands.

‘Finning,’ as it’s called, is slowly being shut down as more Pacific countries enact legislation creating shark sanctuaries in their territorial waters and shared areas, Villagomez said.


Richard L. Cassin is the Publisher and Editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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