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Shark fins from Canada sold as delicacy in China

Ben Nelms / Reuters

Jon Planes holds a large Soupfin shark (Galeorhinus galeus) aboard the Ocean Sunset in the Pacific Ocean off of Ucluelet, British Columbia, June 24, 2012.

Reuters reports — The Ocean Sunset is a commercial fishing boat that hunts sharks as well as other fish for their meat and fins. After the fishermen catch them, dogfish sharks are sent to a processing plant to be cut and distributed. The fins are removed and the body is skinned. The bellies are exported to Germany where they are smoked and sold as beer-garden pub food. The fins are removed and sent to Asia where they are used in shark fin soup - a delicacy in Chinese culture. Animal rights advocates criticize the shark fin harvest but others say that eating shark fins is an old cultural tradition.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers the Soupfin shark vulnerable to extinction. The animal was the mainstay of the shark fishery “boom” between 1936 and 1944, when over 24 million pounds were landed, according to the IUCN.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Images made available to NBC News on Dec. 6

Ben Nelms / Reuters

Newly caught dogfish sharks are pulled aboard the Ocean Sunset commercial fishing boat in the Pacific Ocean off of Ucluelet, British Columbia, June 25.

Ben Nelms / Reuters

A family eats shark fin soup at Vancouver's Grand Honor Chinese restaurant in Vancouver, British Columbia, July 1.

Ben Nelms / Reuters

A shark fin from a Chinese Herbal store is photographed in a studio in Vancouver, British Columbia, July 6.

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