BEIJING, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Demand for shark fin soup, a delicacy in China, has fallen sharply in the country thanks to a campaign against it by conservationists, the official media said.
Government and industry statistics show shark fin soup, also once regarded as a social status symbol, is no longer fashionable after conservationists showed millions of sharks are killed each year to meet the demand for the soup, raising the threat of their extinction.
The CCTV report said the fall in demand could have wider implications for other endangered wildlife.
The campaign to promote public awareness about the shark trade was joined by a coalition of celebrities including former NBA star Yao Ming.
The government has also set up a campaign banning the soup from official banquets, the report said.
May Mei, chief representative in China of Wildaid, an NGO working for wildlife protection, said effects of the campaign have been dramatic.
"Last year, after the Chinese government released a three-year ban on eating sharp fin soup, the decline is huge. The consumption declined by 50 to 70 percent in the past two years," said May Mei.
Earlier this year, Sea Shepherd, an international non-profit marine wildlife conservation group, reported discovering "shark-mongers of death" in Hong Kong drying thousands of shark fins on a roof. Gary Stokes, its Hong Kong coordinator, wrote on the group's web site that shark fins are sliced off the creatures, which are then thrown back into the waters to drown or bleed to death. The group said photographs posted on its website showed more than 10,000 shark fins drying on a roof in a quiet Hong Kong neighborhood.
Stokes said sharks, as predators, keep the ocean ecosystems in balance, but they are slow to reproduce. "Removing and wiping them out of existence just for the greed and bragging rights ... is absolute proof that we as a species have completely disconnected from our natural world," he wrote.
In September, CCTV reported shark fin is no longer to be found on the menu at government banquets in Hong Kong and officials on the island have banned its consumption, along with Bluefin tuna.