China had recently become the number 1 market for sales in shark fins due the increase in wealth and the cultural connotation with status in society. However the actual awareness amongst Chinese about what they were actually eating was very low. According to a survey carried out by WildAid, 85% said that after knowing the implications of eating shark fins, they no longer wished to participate in the trade.
Figures estimate that 75 out of the total 100 million sharks that are caught every year go towards making shark fin soup (the main dish for shark fins).
The Study by Wild Aid also proved that the Chinese had perhaps been misled in purchasing shark fins as 75% said that they were not aware that shark fin soup came from sharks. This can be explained by the fact that the dish translates literally to “fish wing soup” in Mandarin. Another 19% surprisingly believed that the fins would grow back. Very few however were aware of how the shark fin trade affects the worldwide population of sharks.
Over the past few years shark fin soup has reduced by as much as 50 % in China (according to Wild Aid). The campaign lead by Yao Ming has been reported to have a 91% approval by the Chinesepopulation to ban the practice. Although this ban is yet to take place, the government has ceased to serve shark fin soup at all state dinners.
Sharks play an integral role in maintaining the population of each level of their food chain. Like all apex predators, the removal of the top of a food chain can have drastic and non-reversible effects on the rest of the food chain.