Wednesday, December 21, 2005

WTO delegates warned: don't eat shark's fin

Out dated .. but then ..

Delegates hoping to sample some of Hong Kong's gastronomic delights during the World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit this week have received a stark message from activists: keep away from shark's fin.

An environmental pressure group, Hong Kong People's Council for Sustainable Development, urged the 11,000 delegates and journalists attending the trade talks to avoid the luxury dish in the city's high-end Chinese restaurants, the South China Morning Post reported Tuesday.

The popularity of the delicacy -- usually served in a soup -- is blamed for overfishing of shark, which has reduced many species to near extinction.

The council also demanded the WTO impose restrictions on the sale of shark's fin in line with Cites rules, which govern trade in endangered species.

"We hope the WTO rules can be adjusted in line with these international conventions," council chairman Albert Lai was quoted as saying in the report.

Hong Kong is the centre of the world's shark's fin trade -- some 80 percent of all fins sold on the world market come through here.

Environmentalists say shark's fins are harvested inhumanely in a process called "finning" in which fishermen hack off the limbs of live sharks and dump their bodies back to sea to die.

Although tasteless, the gelatinous dish's high price makes it a status symbol and its consumption is considered a mark of wealth.