Source: The Weekend Australian, 24-25 February, 2001, p.11

There's an eco-disaster in my soup

LONDON: The Chinese middle 
class's growing appetite for shark fin 
soup is sending the world's already 
depleted shark population closer to 
   Research, published yesterday by 
the group WildAid, suggested some 
populations had fallen by up to 90 per 
cent with more than 100 million 
sharks and shark-like fish killed each 
year. Shark populations also are slow 
to reproduce, making them 
vulnerable to over-fishing. 
   The group warned that China's 
demand for shark fins had led to the 
growth of illegal fishing in precious 
marine reserves such as the 
Galapagos and Cocos islands, and 
called on Britain and other European 
countries to join the US and Australia 
in introducing an immediate ban on 
   An estimated 250 million Chinese 
customers value shark fin as a 
delicacy for its aphrodisiac powers. 
Such is the demand that prices have 
risen and reported shark catches have 
gone up from 622,908 tonnes in 1985 
to more than 800,000 tonnes in 1998. 
   The great white shark has been 
placed on the International Union for 
the Conservation of Nature's 
"vulnerable" list. The whale shark, the 
world's largest fish, is also targeted by 
harpoon fisheries for fin and liver 
exports to India and Taiwan, and the 
basking shark once sighted in its 
hundreds off Britain's Cornish coast, 
has declined by 50 to 80 per cent in 
the past 20 years. A dorsal fin can 
fetch up to £10,000 ($27,500). 
   WildAid director Peter Knights 
said: "Every shark now has a 
price on its fins. There is a free- 
for-all developing, which is 
causing depletion and possible 
extinction in some cases." 

   The Times

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