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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Take shark fin off official menus

By Jin Zhu and Gao Changxin (China Daily)

08:40, March 05, 2012

Ban would help save species from extinction

BEIJING - A National People's Congress deputy has called on the central government to take shark fin off the menu at official banquets to help save the lives of up to 100 millions sharks slaughtered every year.

"I suggest the central government bans the consumption of shark fin at banquets at all levels, as part of efforts to save the species from extinction," said Guo Guangchang, an NPC deputy from Shanghai and chairman of Fosun International Ltd, one of China's largest conglomerates.

The campaign was initiated last year by basketball legend Yao Ming, who said "there is no reasonable explanation for the cruelty".

Many restaurants and hotels have already followed suit and taken shark fin off their menus.

Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels, which owns The Peninsula Hotels, has stopped serving the dish since Jan 1, saying its decision was made "in recognition of the threat facing the global shark population".

Swissotel Beijing, a five-star hotel, stopped serving shark fin last November.

Guo proposed that State Council draft the world's first national regulation on consumption of shark fin.

Shark fin soup, considered a delicacy, is widely served at top-class restaurants throughout China.

To meet this demand, between 70 and 100 million sharks are slaughtered annually for their fins, putting the species at grave risk of extinction, Guo said.

His proposed regulation would ban government and military agencies from consuming shark fin at official banquets. And the government should do more to let the public know that shark fins are not nutritious but contain high levels of lead and mercury, he added.

Li Jing, a 49-year-old office clerk in Shenzhen, said she supported Guo's proposal. "It is right that public servants should take the lead in stopping eating shark fin," she said.

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