Exhibit aims to slow soup sales

The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium will host a special exhibition about sharks starting tomorrow, to educate people about the species and perhaps convince a few visitors to stop eating shark’s fin soup.

The aquarium and WildAid, a non-profit wildlife conservation organization, have invested 5 million yuan (US$617,000) to put on the exhibition, “I Love Sharks – Our Ocean, Our Home,” which will run through the end of the year.

Over 20 species including the nurse shark, hammerhead shark and Japanese carpet shark will be put on exhibit.

Organizers said they want to provide visitors a chance to unveil the mystery of sharks, and more importantly, to raise public awareness about protecting the species.

Shark’s fins, known in China as yuchi or “fish wing,” is believed by many Chinese to benefit the immune system, digestion and blood pressure. Shark’s fin soup, an expensive dish, is particularly popular in Southeast Asia – the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore.

“On the Chinese mainland, it costs at least 200 yuan for a small bowl of soup,” said Shi Weizhe, director of the aquarium and an expert on sharks. “But actually its flavor and nutritional value are played up.”

Every year around 10,000 tons of shark fins are shipped around the world for trade.

A well-known shark fin restaurant on the Nanjing Road W. says it serves about 100 customers a day, and most of them order the shark’s fin soup, which ranges in price from 280 yuan to 1,280 yuan a bowl.

“Nearby office workers and businessmen eat here regularly,” said an employee of the restaurant, who declined to be named. “They’re convinced of the traditional fame and benefits of the dish.”

Of the approximately 490 species of sharks in the world, 100 species are exploited, and about 20, such as the white shark and whale shark, are endangered.

Source: Shanghai Daily