07/11/2011, 00.00
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Shark fin soup, one of the great delicacies of Chinese cuisine, at risk

Fishermen will no longer be able to slice off shark fins on board. A ban is already in place against tossing the fish back into the water after removing its fin. Every year, 73 million sharks are slaughtered this way, 4 million in Taiwan alone.
Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Shark fin soup lovers in China and around the world might have a hard time finding their preferred soup after Taiwan announced plans yesterday to tighten measures against hunting the ocean predator for its fin.

Taiwanese fishermen, who are already barred from tossing sharks back into the water after slicing off their fin, a measure that failed to stifle criticism from environmentalists, will no longer be able to remove a shark's fin onboard. Offenders risk having their boats seized and their licence revoked if they do not respect the new regulation.

Finning sharks is a common practice in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore. Up to 73 million sharks are killed each year around the world for fins for the sole purpose of making make soup.

Once it has lost its fin, the fish drowns or is attacked by other sharks.

However, according to Fisheries Agency chief James Sha, unlike their counterparts in Africa and Southeast Asia, Taiwan fishermen do not toss the bodies of the sharks into the water as feared by some environmentalist groups.

Local fishermen “have no reason to dump the meat of the sharks as local consumers eat them and they can be sold here at good prices," he said.

Still, Taiwan’s Environmental and Animal Society has welcomed the measure. It estimates that up to four million sharks are slaughtered in Taiwan a year.

Despite campaigns from activists, demand for shark fins is seen as growing. The traditional soup is considered a pricey delicacy. In some restaurants, one portion can cost up to US$ 100.
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