China: No More Shark Fin Soup at State Banquets
Delicacy off menus as shark populations shrink
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2012 12:39 AM CDT
A chef cooks in the kitchen of a restaurant urging the public not to eat shark fin in Beijing, China.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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(Newser) – Campaigners fighting to save the world's rapidly shrinking population of sharks have scored a big victory in China. The central government says it is banning the serving of shark fin soup—a delicacy widely seen as an essential part of lavish dinners—from official banquets nationwide. The ruling could take up to 3 years to take effect, and may be ignored in some areas, but campaigners hailed it as a big step in the right direction, reports the New York Times.

"It is the first time that the Chinese central government has expressed a decision to phase out shark fin from banquets funded by taxpayers’ money," notes the conservation director of the World Wildlife Fund, who says the move will send a strong message to Chinese consumers. Up to 73 million sharks are killed for their fins every year, and the WWF says 181 species of shark are now under threat, up from only 15 in 1996.