Putting the Bite on the Shark Fin Trade

Two new developments spell good news for sharks. The first: India, a major shark fishing nation, has banned shark finning at sea, the practice of slicing off a shark’s fins—often while still alive—and throwing the mutilated shark back into the ocean. According to international wildlife trade monitoring agency, TRAFFIC, India is the world’s second-largest shark-catching nation behind Indonesia, with the two countries accounting for 20 percent of yearly shark catches.

The second positive development: Shark fin imports to Hong Kong have dropped 20–30 percent following the launch of a campaign involving AWI and dozens of other international and Hong Kong-based groups to persuade major airlines to refuse to carry shark fins as cargo. Emirates banned transport of shark fins on their cargo flights in June, and Qantas banned them in May, two of at least a dozen airlines that have responded positively to the campaign. A drop in demand has also been cited as a reason for the decline; consumption of shark fins in China has dropped 70 percent since the end of 2012. A Chinese government crackdown on corruption and extravagance involving lavish banquets and government officials is said to be a major factor in this precipitous (and welcome) decline. 

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