The Cutting Room Floor…. VIDEO: Inside a shark slaughterhouse in China..
The Star’s Bill Schiller obtained rare access to a factory where sharks are processed - largely for the use of their fins in a controversial dish regarded by some as a delicacy.
PUQI, CHINA—They have roamed the seas for millions of years, survived the rise and fall of the dinosaurs.
But in China, sharks reach their final destination at the end of a road in a town called Puqi.
On the blood-slicked floors of Haideli Shark Products, the air heavy with the smell of ammonia, as many as 100 sharks per day arrive to be butchered and processed as food.
The most highly prized parts — the fins — are destined to become shark fin soup, the high-priced Asian delicacy.
But environmentalists say the growing appetite for the soup comes at a high price: a dangerous decline in shark numbers worldwide, upsetting the balance of the oceans.
That concern is spreading. Four U.S. states and three U.S. possessions have banned the sale and consumption of shark fin.
Next month, Toronto will consider a proposed ban. And in Ottawa, New Democrat MP Fin Donnelly wants a national ban.
Even in Hong Kong, which handles 50 per cent of the global trade in shark fin, there are signs of growing resistance to its consumption.
But here on China’s mainland — which together with Taiwan and Hong Kong consumes 95 per cent of the world’s shark fin — incomes are rising, and so is demand for the delicacy.
In a society where showing off one’s wealth matters, shark fin soup is a powerful status symbol. Buying it means you can afford it, and never before have so many come within reach.
A single bowl at a top Hong Kong restaurant, for example, can cost $200.
In specialty markets, whole fins can sell for $1,600 a kilogram — or more.
“Eating shark’s fin is a deeply rooted tradition, especially at weddings,” says Haideli’s Wang Haifeng, whose family has been in the shark processing business for three generations. “In China we say, ‘Without shark’s fin, it’s not a banquet.’ ”
For full story see The Saturday Star.