Students learn facts behind the fin trade

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 June, 2010, 12:00am

Hoping to raise awareness about shark finning in Hong Kong, Primary Six students at Clearwater Bay School have been studying the issue. They have discovered some facts and myths about the city's love of shark's fin.

Shark finning continues to be a major problem in Hong Kong, with many high-end restaurants still serving shark's fin soup as a speciality for tourists, while many locals see it as a highlight at wedding banquets.

Whale sharks especially are caught in large numbers every year. Their fins are cut off to make fancy displays and sold as the famous tin gau chi, one of the most expensive kinds of shark's fin soup in Chinese restaurants. Their bodies are then dumped into the ocean like rubbish.

'Up to 70 million sharks are killed each year and end up in soup,' says student Sakari Harding. 'If we keep on eating shark's fin soup, sharks will become extinct.'

Fellow Year Six student Gina Thakur adds: 'Shark's fin has no nutritional value and contains high levels of mercury, so I can't understand why people want to eat it.'

Constance Chu also does not understand why people like shark's fin soup.

'It has no taste. [Chefs] just add other ingredients to make it [taste good]. People eat shark's fin because it is expensive and they want to show they are rich.''

As to the belief that sharks are dangerous to people, Leo Ying has researched the facts.

'Why are we killing sharks? It is because they look scary, but sharks are not aggressive unless you attack them,' he says.

'The chance of someone being killed in a plane accident is one in 10 million, but the chance of them being killed by a shark is one in 500 million.

'In fact, every year we kill up to 100 million sharks, while sharks kill only five humans.'

The whale shark is known to be gentle, feeding only on small shrimps and plankton.

This group of 11-year-olds believe Hongkongers should stop eating shark's fin soup. They say 'sharks are our friends, not food'.