The shark fin industry tends to fly somewhat under the radar as far as species identification goes. For example, Canada allows the import of shark fins that are not from endangered species – but many fins are skinned or dried before inspection, making it impossible to discern what species the fin actually came from (aside from performing a DNA test on it).
Shark fin soup is also more of a status symbol than a culinary delicacy – since the fin itself adds little flavor to the soup, it doesn’t necessarily matter what variety of shark it comes from. The sharks are caught in most oceans, and are not from one specific area. However, since the 1950s the white tip population has declined by 85% in the Atlantic. Hammerhead populations have declined by 70% in the Pacific and 83% in the Atlantic in the past 25 years. Overall 126 of 460 species are in danger of going extinct.
According to a paper published by the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN) on the utilization of sharks, there are 29 different species of shark that are used for their fins. In Hong Kong, the top graded fins come from hammerhead sharks, a species that have suffered a drastic reduction in population numbers. Hammerheads are targeted by fishing vessels for their high-value fins.
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