Image: Bloomberg photo by Qilai Shen.
According to Chinese state-run media Xinhua, at least 94% of mainland China’s wet markets had been reopened as of March 22. It remains unclear, however, how many of those have completely stopped trading wild animals.Instead, new policies and regulations need to incorporate scientific evidence together with consideration of different cultural perceptions and values towards wildlife, wildlife trade and consumption.”
Traditionally, consumers in China have long favored fresh produce, preferring to make several trips to a market each week to buy meat, fish and vegetables, rather than driving to a supermarket for a weekly shop. University of Sydney’s environmental and humanitarian engineer Petr Matous said that wet markets play an important role in food security for many low income communities, both in China and globally, who don’t have access to online options.”Abolishing wet markets may give the illusion of solving the cause of the current situation but the real problems are deeper than that,” he said in an email.Many experts agree that ending the illegal trade of animals is the most important means of preventing the next pandemic — and that means better regulation and stricter enforcement, especially at a local level.