Shark fin soup will likely be banned from official banquets in about three years, according to the Government Offices Administration of the State Council, reported the China Network Television yesterday.
The administration said the ban on shark fins at State functions is likely to take three years to implement but could be done in one or two years if proper conditions prevail.
The administration was responding to a proposal by 30 National People's Congress deputies who called for shark fin to be taken off the menu at official banquets during this year's "two sessions."
The deputies said in their proposal that some 70 to 100 million sharks are killed for only their fins every year, and 44 species of shark have been listed in China as endangered or facing extinction.
The administration said it will continue to hammer out details clarifying the ban on shark fin consumption at official receptions in coordination with other government bodies.
Over 95 percent of the annual harvest of shark fin worldwide is consumed on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, according to a news report by people.com.cn.
In an apparent attempt to limit lavish banquets that often feature expensive shark fin, the administration also said the cost of official receptions should be reduced, and funds allocated to official banquets needs to be cut.
Discipline inspection and supervision departments will also have to do their job and punishing those who organize lavish official banquets.
NPC delegate, Ding Liguo, also proposed at last year's meeting that the country should outlaw the trading of shark fin in an effort to maintain the ecological balance of the world's oceans.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on the other hand has ruled that publically funded official banquets "must not include exorbitant food materials and endangered species such as shark fin," Tsang Tak-sing, secretary for Home Affairs of Hong Kong, said in May last year.
Since ancient times shark fin has been considered a delicacy that also perks up one's health, especially when consumed prior to the onset of winter.
Guo Guangchang, a NPC deputy who wants shark fin banned from banquets believes it may actually harm human health.
"It's difficult for the human body to absorb the nutrient in shark fin, plus there are excessive levels of lead and mercury in it," said Guo.