Thanks to letter writing and pressure from Hong Kong based non profits including smaller groups like Shark Stewards, the trade of shark fin is becoming increasingly more difficult. This month, just ahead of the America’s Cup in San Francisco, Emirates Airlines announced they would stop carrying shark fin as cargo. Following Air New Zealand and Air Cathay, these policies are squeezing the shark fin trade. Emirates Air is the title sponsor of Team Emirates New Zealand who is currently leading the 2013 America’s Cup. Shark Stewards is using this victory to urge the Emirates Team New Zealand to speak up for sharks and ban shark finning in New Zealand Waters.
“Like never before in the past decade we are experiencing a new momentum towards shark protection,” said David McGuire, the Director of a San Francisco based non profit Shark Stewards. Shark Stewards is dedicated to protecting the ocean by saving sharks and has been involved in shark fin trade bans and reducing shark fining through policy. “The combination of trade restrictions, carriers like Air Emirates eschewing the business, hotels like the Shangri La chain dropping it from the menu and increased awareness is putting the squeeze on these traders.”
Sharks are still in trouble, says McGuire. “We visited Shark Fin Alley in Hong Kong this year and filmed tens of thousands of dried shark fins in small shops. Bin were overflowing with shark fin and every restaurant has shark fin soup on the menu.” Hong Kong is still the major trader of shark fin in the world.
In 2006, Dr. Shelly Clarke analyzed the shark fin trade and estimated a range of 26-73 million shark fins flowing through Hong Kong auction houses each year. As the major entry port for China, Hong Kong has long been the world’s largest shark fin trading center. WWF estimates that Hong Kong handles at least half of the global trade that is estimated at 10,000 metric tons of shark fins per year.
The South China Morning Post just reported that shark fin sales are down as much as 30% as a result of the economy and similar measures taken by the Chinese Government. “We need to continue pressuring governments to prohibit shark finning and restrict the illegal shark fin trade before it’s too late for sharks,” adds McGuire.