WPY 2014

Photograph Details

Finalist 2014

World in our Hands

Paul Hilton, United Kingdom/ Australia

Sea of death

A sea of fins covers the roof of a building in Hong Kong, representing the slaughter of an estimated 30,000 sharks. Following a public outcry over the growing volume of fins being dried on city pavements, traders started to dry shark fins on roofs. This picture was taken as part of Paul’s report on the worldwide slaughter of sharks for their fins. The most reliable estimate puts the global shark catch at around 100 million a year, but the actual figure could be as high as 273 million. Most species targeted are large and slow to reproduce – their reproduction rates cannot keep pace with the numbers being killed. More than 70 per cent of the 14 most traded shark species are classified as endangered or vulnerable, meaning they are at a high or very high risk of extinction in the wild. Along with fins, other shark parts including meat, skin, teeth, jaws and oil are sold. But it has been the high market value of shark fins, chiefly in Hong Kong and China, that has driven demand. However, a recent report indicates that shark fin is declining in value, with one trader quoted as saying that it is now the same as squid on the street.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 16–35mm f2.8 lens; 1/400 sec at f10; ISO 400.

Hong Kong: latitude 22.267, longitude 114.188 Hong Kong: latitude 22.267, longitude 114.188

Hong Kong

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Paul Hilton, United Kingdom/ Australia

Paul is a photojournalist focused on global environmental and conservation issues, helping to investigate and expose conservation priorities. Widely published in leading international media, he is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and has received numerous awards, including a World Press Photo award for his work on shark fins.

  • The end of sharks
  • The pangolin pit