Leveraging shark-fin consumer preferences to deliver sustainable fisheries

Published on
19 October 2021

Leveraging shark-fin consumer preferences to deliver sustainable fisheries

Xuehong Zhou, Hollie Booth, Mingzhe Li, Zhifan Song, Douglas C. MacMillan, Wei Zhang, Qiang Wang, Diogo VerĂ­ssimo


At least one third of sharks and their cartilaginous relatives (Class Chondrichthyes) meet the IUCN Red List Criteria for being threatened with extinction. Overfishing is the primary threat, with less than 4% of the world’s shark catches managed for sustainability. The high-value shark-fin trade has gained the greatest attention as a conservation issue, yet there has been little research on shark-fin consumer preferences, and how these might be leveraged to deliver sustainability goals. We used an online discrete choice experiment to explore preferences for price, quality, rarity, and finning among 2914 shark-fin soup consumers in China. Overall, consumers prefer higher priced and rare shark-fins, obtained without finning, yet we found three distinct groups with substantial heterogeneity between them. Our results provide evidence for the conspicuous consumption nature of shark-fin use, but also suggest these preferences could be leveraged to incentivize responsible shark fishing. In addition, messaging for future unsustainable demand reduction should focus on shark-finning and animal welfare as opposed species rarity and extinction.

Conservation Letters, DOI: 10.1111/conl.12842


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