Shark fin soup is off the menu for officials in Hong Kong, as the government has officially banned the controversial delicacy from all official functions and prohibited its employees from eating it on their own time.
Shark fin soup has been widely condemned by environmental groups, as many sharks are threatened species and the "finning" process — in which live sharks are caught and their fins cut off, then the sharks are thrown back in the ocean to die — is cruel.
According to the New York Times, the Hong Kong government said it was taking action in the interest of green living and following sustainability trends. In a statement, the government said it was “determined to take the lead and set a good example on this front.”
The ban also includes bluefin tuna, which is a threatened species, and black moss, a type of algae that is popular in Asian cuisine but has been over-harvested in Mongolia, leading to increased desertification.
About half of the shark fin trade goes through Hong Kong at some point, with most of the fins headed for the Chinese mainland.
Consumption of shark fins is down on the Chinese mainland as well. According to Shanghaiist, consumption of shark fins has dropped 70 percent since the end of last year, when China declared a ban on shark fin soup at official banquets. The decreased demand has caused a drastic reduction in the number of poachers and shark fin traffickers, which scientists say has resulted in a growing shark population.