In this photo, shark fins are laid out to dry in the sun before being packed and shipped to buyers. These parts are the main ingredient in shark fin soup, a pricey Asian delicacy.
Credit: ©Thomas P. Peschak, Sharks and People (University of Chicago Press)
If sharks made movies about humans, they'd likely be much more frightening than Jaws, considering about 100 million sharks are killed per year to be made into shark fin soup, a Chinese delicacy. But in some rare good news for the animals, the taste for the dish appears to be fading in China: Consumption of the soup is down 50 to 70 percent in the last two years, according to the American environmental group WildAid.
Just a few years ago, most Chinese didn't know that the dish came from sharks, as its name translates to "fish wing" soup, according to the Washington Post. But a series of public relations campaigns appear to have helped spread the word. In 2006, for example, WildAid enlisted the help of professional basketball player Yao Ming to educate people on the brutal process used to obtain soup ingredients, in which sharks' fins are hacked off, and the animals are tossed back into the ocean to slowly die. A government campaign against lavish banquets, where the soup was often served, has also made a difference, the Post reported.
"It is a myth that people in Asia don't care about wildlife," Peter Knights, with WildAid, told the Post. "Consumption is based on ignorance rather than malice."