Enviromentalists say that new American laws banning shark finning will have little effect in the "Grand Central Station" of the controversial trade, Hong Kong.
Hong Kong accounts for almost 80 percent of the worlds shark fin trade, being a staple at high-end restaurants and wedding banquets, as well as a major ingredient in the hugely popular shark fin soup.
Hong Kong was the largest importer of shark fins globally in 2007, buying about 277 million US dollars worth of fins.
Despite celebrities like Hong Kong-born action star Jackie Chan, NBA superstar Yao Ming and Taiwanese movie director Ang Lee campaigning for shark conservation, there are no signs of change in the Chinese culture.
In fact, proponents of the delicacy even feel attacked by the US imposed restrictions.
Mak Ching-po, chairman of the Hong Kong Dried Seafood and Grocery Merchants' Association, thinks the shark fin uproar is an attack on his culture, saying:
"It's because green groups always go around telling people not to eat shark fin… They are brainwashing the public. Why don't they go after the foods of other cultures like caviar or foie gras? They simply want us and the whole industry to die. It is turning Chinese culture upside down."
Silvy Pun, a spokeswoman for the conservation group WWF Hong Kong, describes the city's position on shark conservation "disappointing", but says that the new American restrictions on shark finning won't make much of a difference, adding:
"More than 80 countries actively contribute to Hong Kong's shark fin imports and the US is only one of them."
It looks like America is taking the first steps to regulate this disgusting trade, but it will take the entire world to work together to end the unnecessary killing of one of the oldest species on the planet.
[Image via AP Images.]
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