What is Shark Fin Soup?

Shark fin soup has been considered a symbol of wealth and a delicacy in China since the Ming Dynasty. It was a dish that only the Emperor and his guests would be served. Eventually wealthy families and business people in Hong Kong and other cities with Chinese populations would also serve it. It was not affordable to the average Chinese. 

The popularity rose about 20 years ago when the Chinese middle class grew rapidly and with it the demand for luxury items. The soup has become a standard dish served to impress guests at banquets, business dinners and weddings. The demand is also expanding into other Asian countries and cities around the world that have larger Chinese communities.

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The result is that now millions of people want shark fin soup and that shark populations are being decimated in every corner of the globe to meet the demand. And there is no shortage in eager suppliers as every country with a commercial fishing fleet is chasing the money made from shark fins.

More than 145 Nations participate in the trade of shark products.

Fins can bring in hundreds of dollars on the market, with the average being about $450 per pound. A bowl of soup can cost up to $100. 

The top consumers of shark fin soup are China, Malaysia and Thailand.

Stefanie Brendl