Tue, Dec 10, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Environmentalists hail China’s shark fin banquet ban

AFP, BEIJING

Environmentalists yesterday hailed a Chinese government ban on serving shark’s fin, bird’s nest soup and other wild animal products at official functions, saying it will set a precedent that will help protect endangered species.

The Chinese Communist Party announced the ban as part of a sweeping government crackdown on corruption, excessive spending and extravagance.

An official notice from the party’s Central Committee and the State Council, China’s Cabinet, released on Sunday “ruled out dishes containing shark fins, bird nests and wild animal products in official reception dinners.”

“I think it is great. I think it is extremely important for a whole bunch of reasons,” said Matthew Durnin, a former director of science at the Nature Conservancy, who has spent 20 years in China working on projects concerning endangered species.

“With sharks particularly, they are an apex predator, they are very important. Lots of systems and animals are getting destroyed in the oceans,” he said in Beijing. “Something that is at this higher level in China really sets a precedent that needs to be set.”

Shark fin soup has long been a luxury enjoyed by China’s wealthy, but environmentalists say shark populations around the world have been decimated by its consumption.

Durnin said he believed Beijing would enforce the new ruling, as concerns over the environmental impact of such habits had become “very high profile” in recent years.

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