Fish, Fisheries and Queryomics
One view of the Hong Kong shark fin trade:
An article published last week in the South China Morning Post reports that shark-fin traders in Hong Kong see Western campaigns against shark fishing, finning, and shark fin soup as representing an anti-Chinese conspiracy.
Shark fin traders in Hong Kong complain this “anti-Chinese conspiracy,” conducted by environmentalists, is killing their business. “The whole industry has recorded a [sales] decrease of 50 per cent on last year,” Shark Fin Trade Merchants Association chairman said Ho Siu-chai, quoted by the South China Morning Post. “[The decline] is mainly due to the omnipresent advocacy by green groups.”
Ho claims that Western environmental groups blame traders for cutting fins off sharks and dumping their carcasses at sea. “This is not true and is distorted,” he said. Well, says Beel, of course this is untrue. It is rogue fishers who fin the sharks and discard the carcasses. The traders merely provide a market for these illegally obtained fins. No market, no finning. It’s pretty simple says Beel.
Ho estimates that, as a result of the hostility directed toward the trade, about 30 percent of the shark fin shops in Hong Kong had closed in recent years, while others had been forced to sell other dried seafood, such as abalone and scallops.
An alternative view of the Hong Kong shark fin trade:
NBC News reported earlier this month that hostility toward the Hong Kong shark fin trade had forced traders to dry fins out of sight on area rooftops. The NBC article is sparsely worded and lets the photographs do the talking. Please, let Beel present two photographs, along with their NBC captions, from that article.
Beel thinks these latter photographs call to question the picture of a Ma & Pa, artisanal trade in shark fins that Ho and the South China Morning Post evoke.