BEIJING, July 3 (Xinhua) -- China's Government Offices Administration of the State Council (GOASC) is to issue guidelines to ban serving shark fins at official receptions, according to a report by news website CNTV.cn on Monday.
An official with the GOASC said the guidelines, instructing all levels of government agencies to stop serving the delicacy at such events, will come out within one to three years, the report said.
The GOASC will cooperate with financial departments to restrict expenses on luxury food at official receptions, and impose stronger supervision over banquets funded with public money, according to the report.
The news drew positive feedback from animal welfare organizations.
Humane Society International (HSI), an animal protection organization, issued a statement on its website, saying that the news "marks a watershed moment for the global movement to protect sharks and pushes China onto the world's stage as an emerging leader in shark conservation."
Shark fin soup, considered a delicacy and a symbol of social status, is served at mostly exclusive restaurants throughout China. Moveover, a widespread belief that shark fin is of great nutritional value has only helped with its fame.
According to WildAid, a wild animal conservation organization, up to 70 million sharks are slain annually for their fins, which has put at least 17 percent of known species of shark and manta on the verge of extinction.
It said the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong have been among the biggest importers of shark fin for years. So far, no legislation has been introduced in China to ban the practice.
At the NPC session on March, 2011, Ding Liguo, deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) and the billionaire executive chairman of Delong Holdings Limited, first proposed banning shark-fin trading through legislation in order to protect marine resources.
Together with another 30 NPC deputies, he also handed in a proposal to forbid serving shark fins at official receptions.