arrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upchevron-upchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upclosecomment-newemail-newgallerygridheadphones-newheart-filledheart-openmap-geolocatormap-pushpinArtboard 1Artboard 1Artboard 1minusng-borderpauseplayplusreplayscreensharefacebookgithubArtboard 1Artboard 1linkedinlinkedin_inpinterestpinterest_psnapchatsnapchat_2tumblrtwittervimeovinewhatsappspeakerstar-filledstar-openzoom-in-newzoom-out-new

The Push to Stop the Killing of Sharks for Their Fins

According to some estimates, 100 million sharks may be killed annually, mostly to feed China’s demand for shark fin soup.

View Images
Thousands of shark fins are laid out in the sun in Hong Kong. Once dry, a fin can stay in storage for years before it’s boiled and its spines are extracted to make soup. 
This story appears in the July 2016 issue of National Geographic magazine.

A hammerhead shark is pulled aboard a fishing boat 500 miles off the coast of Indonesia. Its flesh is not worth much, but its fins could fetch $100 a pound. The fishermen grab the shark, slice off its fins, and throw the animal, still alive, back into the sea to sink to the ocean floor.

View Images
The dried shark fin spines have no flavor, but they add texture similar to that of a bean sprout.

According to some estimates, 100 million sharks from a variety of species may be killed annually, mostly to feed China’s demand for shark fin soup, scientists say. Historically most fins have gone to southern China, where the soup is a popular wedding dish. But an anti-fin campaign has emerged, using celebrities such as actor Jackie Chan and former NBA star Yao Ming.

The California-based conservation organization WildAid launched an international campaign against shark fin soup in 2006. The effort includes numerous public service announcements featuring celebrity ambassadors like former NBA star Yao Ming. 

Some say this effort may have cut Asia’s shark fin demand by 70 percent. The Chinese government has outlawed shark fin soup at government events. But it’s not clear whether the wholesale slaughter of sharks has really slowed. Fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly says the government action “is enough to eliminate finning from the radar of Western organizations. And it may continue under the radar until the last shark is caught.”


Hear live stories from explorers and photographers around the country.

See Locations Near You


Enjoy a variety of exhibitions that reflect the richness and diversity of our world.

Buy Tickets

Follow Us