China makes historic move to protect sharks

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Shark fin soup is to be banned from official banquets within the next 1-3 years, according to the Government Offices Administration of the State Council.

The administration said the ban will take about three years to implement, but could be done earlier if proper conditions prevail.

The move comes as a response to a proposal by 30 National People's Congress deputies who called for shark fin to be taken off the menu at official banquets, saying up to 100 million sharks are killed for their fins every year, with 44 species of shark listed in China as endangered or facing extinction.

According to one report, over 95% of the annual harvest of shark fin worldwide is consumed on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

NPC deputy Guo Guangchang, believes that the expensive delicacy may actually harm your health.

"It's difficult for the human body to absorb the nutrient in shark fin, plus there are excessive levels of lead and mercury in it," he told Global Times.

The news comes at the peak of a massive public awareness campaign in China by conservation organisation WildAid, to "Say No to Shark Fin Soup".

Peter Knights, Executive Director of WildAid, says, "With this public commitment, China has emerged as a leader in shark conservation and has the potential to stabilise shark populations and maintain the health of our oceans. A ban on all shark fin imports to China that cannot be clearly proven to be sustainably and humanely fished would be the logical next step to achieve this."

There is a growing movement to protect sharks around the world. This week in the US, Illinois has joined Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and California in banning the sale, trade, possession, and distribution of shark fin products.

In Canada, the first municipal shark fin ban took effect on June 30 in Mississuaga. Ten municipalities to date, including Toronto, have voted to ban the sale and consumption of shark fin products.

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