March 13 - Hong Kong has a reputation as the world's shark fin capital, despite public disapproval and a self-imposed ban on the soup by some restaurants and businesses. Tara Cleary reports.
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Shark fin soup - immensely popular and a status symbol. But it comes at a brutal cost - sharks are de-finned, often alive, and then dumped back into the ocean. And the fish's populations are rapidly dwindling. Marine activist Gary Stokes, of Sea Shepherd, Hong Kong makes a gruesome discovery on a public street. SOUNDBITE: Gary Stokes, Sea Shepherd, Hong Kong saying (English): "I'm absolutely dumbfounded. I don't really know what to make of this. It's just absolutely horrific." Stokes estimates that around 21,000 sharks were killed for these fins. The Chinese city is the new leader in the trade, with a reported annual growth of about five percent. And the World Wildlife Fund's Yolanda Kakabadse says despite international regulations and protections, a voluntary ban is the best way to stop finning. SOUNDBITE: Yolanda Kakabadse, WWF International President, saying (English): "The policy at the government level will only create an illegal market unless there is a society that says 'no more'. And that is what we need to create: a society that is aware, educated and responsible to the rest of the planet as well as the regulation that is needed to control several markets." Some Hong Kong residents are already on board. SOUNDBITE: Arthur Lim , office worker, saying (English): "In my opinion that should be banned, because the way they get the fins is not really humanize (sic). Yes, so I think we should not eat that." SOUNDBITE Keith Wong, guitarist, saying (English): "I like it very much. Of course it's very healthy as well, but actually there are many substitutes as well and the taste can be replaced by some fake shark soup I think." And attitudes like that may go a long way in saving some of the 73 million sharks killed per year. Tara Cleary, Reuters.