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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Commentary: Only China can save our sharks

A CNN commentary by Peter Knights from WildAid, who are pushing for an international ban of shark fin soup. WildAid is an international conservation organization focused on ending the demand for illegal and unsustainable wildlife products. He has researched the trade in shark fin for 10 years and has worked on conservation programs in 45 countries.

Not only China, all Chinese should save the sharks!

Commentary: Only China can save our sharks
December 10, 2008 -- Updated 1959 GMT, By Peter Knights Special to CNN

Though the cartilage from the fins has no real flavor and is basically just protein, this soup retains a cachet that can fetch more than $100 per bowl. It is bought for business dinners, banquets and weddings as an indication of high spending to "honor" guests, but it is leading to environmental vandalism on a massive scale worldwide.

Fishing for fins has spread to the most remote parts of the planet as easily accessible shark populations have already plummeted, some by up to 95 percent in the last fifteen years.

Although most shark fishing is completely unrestricted, in the few areas they are protected they are still being heavily poached. In the Galapagos Marine Reserve, up to 10,000 fins (2,500 sharks) have been seized in a single shipment and endangered sea lions and dolphins are used as bait.

That is why WildAid focuses on trying to end the demand -- the only long-term solution. WildAid believes that "when the buying stops, the killing can, too."

China's most popular star, Yao Ming, championed the program pledging to never again eat shark fin soup, generating 300 news stories.

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