A photographer for international news agency AFP has captured shocking images of thousands of shark fins drying on a factory rooftop in Kennedy Town, on the west side of Hong Kong island – once again putting the spotlight on the shark fin trade.
More than 100 of the world’s shark species are included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of endangered species. The conservation group Wild Aid estimates that 73 million sharks are killed each year, thrown back into the water to bleed to death after their fins are cut off .
Despite the concerns, shark fins are seen by many as a rare delicacy for use in soups and on special occasions. They are still widely available in restaurants across China.
Since the first records of its consumption in the Ming dynasty, shark fin has been a delicacy for the rich and powerful. As chinadialogue has reported, it is still a favourite of those groups today – and is sometimes associated with the corrupt use of public money for wining and dining.
Ironically, as others have explained, shark fin is not particularly nutritious. It is made up of thin strips of cartilage and has no flavour of its own, nor special nutritional value. It mainly consists of collagen, an incomplete protein as it lacks the essential amino acids tryptophan and cysteine. It is much less nutritious than shark meat, which is a complete protein.