SHANGHAI (AP) — Recently retired Chinese NBA star Yao Ming has taken the fight against eating shark fins back to his home country, where consumption of the traditional delicacy is soaring despite efforts to ban their use and trade.

Yao and British tycoon Richard Branson made an appeal Thursday in Shanghai against the consumption of shark fins to a group of 30 of China’s richest and most influential businesspeople. The event was sponsored by the conservation group Wildaid.

Yao Ming

NBA star Yao Ming walk past the Chinese characters for 'Protect the Sharks'. Pic: AP.

Despite moves to ban the trade and consumption of shark fins in California and elsewhere, 95 percent are consumed in China.

Yao said that as he gets used to retirement, he’s using his time to campaign against the slaughter of 1.5 million sharks a week that is taking some of the species close to extinction.