Hong Kong and mainland China dominate the international shark fin market. A 50% share of all worldwide traded shark fins goes into this market and 80% of the fins landed in Hong Kong are then shipped to the Chinese mainland. In 2003 this amounted to 11,000 tons and the market is growing each year by 5%. 3,500 tons are delivered directly to the Chinese mainland.
The term finning is the cruel practice of cutting off a shark's fins, often while the animal is still alive. The shark trunk is then thrown overboard as superfluous ballast. Shark fins only make up about 14% of the shark's total weight, but they bring considerably more money on the international market than shark meat. If in rare cases finning is prohibited, people have no scruples and poach.
Finning is a cruel but lucrative business. In Asia one kilo of shark fins is worth an average of USD 100.