Although Chinese and Japanese primarily consume the dish, the consumption is increasing in western societies with affluent consumers, Asian and non-Asian.
80% of the dried fin market is brokered through Hong Kong and the east is the primary market for shark fin.
Shark Fin Soup is Associated with Asian Cultural Celebrations. Is This an Attack on Asian Culture?
No. This is an attack on an unsustainable fishing practice. The cultural associations are modern and associated with prestige. The problem is simple economics: increasing affluence creates increased demand. This demand is exceeding the supply, which is creating a positive feedback loop, making the shark fins more difficult to obtain, and increasing the price, making the dish more expensive, increasing the prestige. This in turn motivates fishermen to obtain shark fins from a steadily diminishing source of sharks. We cannot produce another population of sharks to satisfy this market.
Many countries have had practices associated with their cultures that were recognized as harmful or unethical and were stopped to protect wildlife. We need to change consumer’s minds that it is prestigious to eat shark fin soup. Some chefs like Kin Lui of Tataki just say no tho shark fin soup.