- Sharks' fins are consumed as a luxury food item in Asia and the demand for them is fuelled by the rising affluence in the region. In Hong Kong, the world's largest shark-fin market, the species whose fins are most commonly recorded in trade are Blue, Shortfin Mako, Sandbar, Bull, hammerhead, silky and thresher sharks. Blue and silky sharks are mainly caught as a by-product of tuna-fishing operations. Hammerhead and silky sharks are the species most often identified as caught by illegal fishing vessels.
- The major importers of fins in recorded trade are China (including Hong Kong and Macao), Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan.
- The recorded trade in all shark products (meat, fins and other products) is highly lucrative, worth USD310 million in 2005, and although by volume fins only accounted for 7% of this trade, they were worth 40% of the total.
- The top 20 catching countries / territories in 2006 according to data reported to FAO are identified below. It should be noted that some do not report their catch, or do not report accurately, to FAO.
|3.||Taiwan, Province of China*||49375||6.5|
|16.||Iran (Islamic Rep. of)||15015||2.0|
|19.||Venezuela, Boliv. Rep of||11294||1.5|
|20.||Korea, Republic of||10841||1.4|
* countries / territories who have implemented plans of action to manage sharks