7 thoughts on “Asians against shark fin soup

  1. Products from at-risk sharks for sale in B.C.

    DNA tests reveal fins from vulnerable species in local stores

    By Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun October 25, 2010

    Imperilled wild animals from around the world are making their way into Canada’s Asian markets due to lack of strong international regulations governing the trade in wildlife.

    To determine exactly which wildlife species are being traded, The Vancouver Sun obtained shark fins, as well as reptiles such as snakes, from the Chinese community in Vancouver and Richmond.

    Bob Hanner, associate director for the Canadian Barcode of Life at the University of Guelph in Ontario, arranged for DNA testing of samples of the wildlife as part of a joint project with The Sun.

    The results prove that sharks globally at risk are finding their way into Canada — all quite legally.

    Conservation status of the various sharks identified through the DNA tests was based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list.

    Four packages of shark fins purchased from Richmond retail shops, at a cost of $4.80 to $68, yielded: bigeye thresher shark (vulnerable); blacktop shark (near-threatened), not to be confused with blacktop reef shark; spinner shark (near-threatened); and longfin mako (vulnerable).

    Four samples provided by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), where a staffer’s father works for a Vancouver Chinese restaurant, produced the following: shortfin mako (vulnerable); dusky shark (vulnerable); blue shark (near-threatened); and silky shark (near-threatened).

    Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea declined to be interviewed for The Sun’s shark series.

    Simon Fraser University’s Nick Duly, co-chair of the IUCN’s shark specialist group, explained that oceanic sharks provide about one-third of the fins sold through Hong Kong for shark-fin soup, while the rest are from “indiscriminate” coastal shark fisheries. “Nearly every fishing village in the world has someone who is trading things like shark fins.”

    Reptiles purchased by The Sun in Vancouver’s Chinatown were identified as: Shaw’s sea snake, sharp-nose viper and red-banded snake, none of which has been evaluated by IUCN.

    Other DNA samples revealed the Chinese soft-shell turtle, vulnerable in the wild and listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but also commercially farmed; and hedgehog sea horse, vulnerable and listed under Appendix II.

    Snakes and other reptiles have not received anywhere near the same conservation attention as mammals or even sharks.

    Spurred by the U.S., CITES agreed at its March convention to investigate the snake trade.

    WWF’s wildlife trade expert Ernie Cooper is working on a guide book on identification of reptile skins, especially snakes, to be made available in multiple languages to help global enforcement in the trade of species at risk.

    “It’s challenging,” Cooper said. “There are so many species of snakes, some listed [by CITES] and some not. It’s messy.”

    Reptile species are exploited for a variety of purposes, including skin for the leather trade, for the meat, and for traditional medicine, even as little is known about their status.

    “Snakes, especially Asian snakes, are heavily impacted by the trade,” said Cooper, noting their importance in controlling rodent populations. “They’re used for meat, the skin for leather goods, and medicinal.

    “In general, nobody cares about snakes, so they fly under the conservation radar.”

    lpynn@vancouversun.com

    © Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

    http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Products+from+risk+sharks+sale/3720352/story.html#ixzz13O9OOW85

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