China plans to ban shark fin soup from being served at government banquets in an attempt to protect endangered shark populations and reduce spending on lavish state functions.
The Communist Party-controlled Global Times said Tuesday it would take about three years to remove shark fins from the menus of official banquets and other government events.
The paper says the ban is part of a wider effort to limit government spending on official dinners that often feature the expensive seafood dish popular in many Asian countries.
Environmental groups say over 70 million sharks are killed primarily for their fins each year worldwide, leaving dozens of shark species threatened with near or total extinction.
Chinese state media say over 95 percent of the annual harvest of shark fin is consumed on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Chinese ban would not affect consumption of shark fin by the general population.
Several countries and local governments around the world have already moved to ban the sale of shark fins, which can sell for as much as $500 per pound.