‘Shark processing hub’ of China sees business decline

‘Shark processing hub’ of China sees business decline

Staff Reporter 

2014-03-12

Puqi, a fishing port in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, has long been a center for the shark processing industry, but under pressure from foreign animal protection groups the port is seeing a sharp drop in its profits.

Catching sharks as a business dates back to a century ago in Puqi, but it boomed only after 1980 when China’s rapid economic growth drove up demand for shark fins, which are considered a delicacy in the country.

Leqing county, where the port is located, has made its name as the base for China’s shark processing industry, and the whole of Puqi reeks with the smell of dead shark.

After local residents realized that they could fetch lucrative prices for shark fins, they scrambled to buy sharks from other fishing ports and sell them on, mainly to restaurants in southern and central China.

Whereas much international condemnation of shark fishing focuses on the practice of definning a shark immediately upon capturing it and dumping the fish back into the sea to die, in Puqi the entire shark is used for food.

At shark processing factories in Puqi, shark heads are used to source a valuable gel known for its purported bone-enhancing effect. The liver is used to produce shark liver oil, while the flesh is ground to make small balls for food.

Workers who can process a shark effectively are called shark rippers and earn as much as 300 yuan (US$35.20) per day at the factories in addition to getting kilograms of free shark meat.

At its peak, the port city boasted scores of such factories and produced 90% of the shark products sold in China, generating annual revenue of 400 million yuan (US$65 million).

International animal protection group Wild Life Risk claimed in 2013 however that their covert investigation revealed that among the more than 600 sharks killed in Puqi every year were protected species including the great white. The group also urged residents to stop the cruel killing of sharks by not eating shark fins.

Their campaign successfully sent shark fin prices into a nosedive and dampened business in Puqi. Many processing factories were forced to wind down, and only four still operate today.

The owner of a now defunct factory currently operates a fish stall at a market in the major city of Wenzhou, close to Puqi. He said every business has its life circle and that with the slump in the shark processing business he has turned to another line of work to make a living.

 

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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