Mon, Sep 27, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Activists blame soup for cutting shark populations

DEMONIZED Wildlife groups warn that too many sharks are being slaughtered, but humans' fears of the species makes arguing for increased protection more difficult

DPA , LONDON

Animal welfare groups and Greenpeace believe more effort needs to be taken to educate people to stop eating so much shark fin, a view not shared by Lee who argues consumption is acceptable so long as it is sustainable.

Martin Baker of China said people should eat less shark fin generally and make sure they only ate it from responsible source to stop the problem of "finning" where sharks have their fins cut off and are left to die a slow death.

"Shark finning, besides being very wasteful, is unfortunately very common. The fins are worth a lot of money, but the rest of the shark does not sell for much," Baker said.

The most effective appeal, however, may turn out to be the common-sense argument that if potentially endangered species continue to be culled at the current rate, the supply of shark fin to restaurant tables will eventually die out too.

In its report, Traffic warns: "Hong Kong and China must recognize that a sustainable shark fin trade requires sustainable shark fisheries and therefore provide a prominent contribution to this end."

Whether they pay attention to this economic logic before population levels reach critical levels may well depend on how many people can be persuaded that the shark is more the hunted than the hunter.

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