Imports of endangered wildlife products have more than doubled in Macau over the last decade, fueled by rising spending and visitation from China, according to a report from U.K.-based TRAFFIC.
According to the non-governmental wildlife monitoring network, around $97 million of wildlife is imported every year.
The bulk of this is seafood – with many Macau casinos and surrounding restaurants serving shark fin soup – viewed as a symbol of status in Chinese culture.
While shark fin is legal in Macau, not all of these products are sourced in a legal and sustainable manner.
“Any seafood restaurant in Macau is likely to have a large variety of shark fin dishes on the menu, but the trade in shark products currently lacks adequate oversight and traceability, leading to unsustainable practices that are decimating shark populations worldwide,” according to report co-author Wilson Lau.
The report has urged Macau authorities to update laws to deter illegal wildlife trade similar to that of Mainland China and Hong Kong, which have stricter penalties.