A recent news piece published in the International Business Times, and available here, indicates that shark fin sales are dropping in Hong Kong -- the world's shark fin hub. In fact, reporter Sophie Song indicates as follows:
"After years of booming business serving locals, mainland Chinese and overseas Chinese, shark fin dealers in Hong Kong have been hit by a drastic market downturn – estimates for 2012 from the government showed that the market shrank by 50 to 70 percent. Roughly one-third of Hong Kong’s shark fin shops have closed down in recent years due to pressure from environmentalists, said Ho Siu-chai, chairman of the Hong Kong Shark Fin Trade Merchants Association."
In my mind, this piece highlights an interesting dilemma -- should matters like shark conservation and shark fin availability be the focus of novel/innovative regulation or should we rely on education and awareness to promote sustainable consumer habits?
In short, I still believe that a combination of both are required to address the problem of shark conservation in light of global demand for shark fins. While education and awareness remains incredibly important, they simply does not work quickly enough to achieve the necessary results. As the article notes, it is estimated that 1/3 of all shark species are threatened with extinction. Therefore, education and awareness must be supplemented and supported by regulation (both internationally and nationally), which moves conservation and welfare along in an expedited fashion.
Still, this is definitely excellent progress!