Recent figures taken by WWF show that there has been almost a 90 percent drop in the trade of shark fins from Hong Kong to mainland China in the last year. The pressure from environmental groups holding protests against shark fin traders and consumers has caused much of the decrease. One example of their success is getting restaurants and hotels serving shark fin soup to strike it off of their menus.
The addition of three more sharks to an international treaty protecting endangered species and huge global campaigns such as WildAid’s Shark Savers “I’m FINished with FINS” ,which launched in late March, have helped to increase knowledge on the topic, with more than 650 of the worlds most influential celebrities backing the campaign. One example is David Beckham, who pledged his support in campaigns against shark fin soup in a recent video message alongside Prince William and Yao Ming. Even the recent anti-extravagance campaign may have contributed to the steep drop in figures for the shark fin delicacy, which was mainly enjoyed by the rich.
One thing that is certain is that the drop in re-export volume by 17.5 percent was driven by the drop in re-exports to mainland China falling fourth place behind Vietnam for shark fin consumption for the first time since 2010. The surprising figure is only heightened by the lack of a shark fin culture in Vietnam.
However, the lack of transparency in government figures means that there is an uncertainty surrounding the topic. There is little or no identification of shark species that need to be tracked, and there are no full statistics available on the shark fin trade, such as volume, country of origin, and species. Some shark species have reduced in population by 99 percent, such as the Hammerhead. The increase in black market sales may also distort the figures. For example, in early 2013, there was public outrage due to the release of images of 15,000-20,000 shark fins laid out on a Hong Kong factory rooftop to dry out. Activists say producers have been forced to the rooftops to avoid public anger, and it was believed that the fins were destined for the Chinese market.