Group says sharks face extinction due to fin soup
BEIJING (Reuters) - Sharks could face extinction within a generation from overfishing for their fins, a conservation group said on Wednesday, calling on the Chinese government to lead the way in their protection.
More than 90 percent of shark fin is consumed in China and demand is growing rapidly as the economy develops leading to more sharks being caught, many illegally in areas that are supposed to be protected, according to the group WildAid.
Shark fin, once offered as a gift to emperors, is traditionally served in soup at Chinese wedding banquets and occasions when the host wants to impress guests with expensive dishes. Some also believe it is good for the health.
"These animals have been here for 400 million years and they may disappear in one generation, not to provide people with basic food, but for a solely luxury item," executive director Peter Knights told a news conference to launch a new report.
Hammerhead, Great White and Basking sharks were some of the species at risk, WildAid said in the report.
The group said shark fin is becoming cheaper and eaten by a growing number of people in China -- perhaps by around 100 million people a year.
"Precisely the role China plays is one of unsustainable demand. The demand for shark fin soup as it now stands, and as it's set to increase, cannot be sustained by wild shark populations," said Steve Trent, WildAid president.
"This is a role where the Chinese government can show genuine global leadership and can help many other countries around the world that are extremely poor and less well resourced, to protect their shark populations."
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