Movement to ban shark fin soup in San Francsico (December 27th 2008)
San Francisco is one of the most progressive cities in the world. However, even there, shark fin soup is being sold. This is why I believe that if we can get it banned in San Francisco it will be like knocking over the first domino that will set in motion a chain of events that will result in shark fin soup being seen as totally unacceptable in a civilised society. I mean, would you eat elephant steak or tiger ribs? Then why shark fin soup? A new grass root movement has been set in motion in San Francisco with the aim of eradicating shark fin soup from all restaurants in the city: San Francisco Against Shark Finning. Check out the site/blog and see what you can do to help.
Help sharks and the oceans this Christmas (December 4th 2008)
Hey, if you’re buying presents for friends and family why not support shark and ocean conservation groups at the same time by buying something from their stores? Remember the oceans this Christmas. The following organisations have some nice things that would make great presents:
Great Calendar for 2009 from Bite-Back
Shark Life Conservation Group – lots of things at their store
The Shark Trust store – some nice toys and puzzles for kids and a lunch box
Ocean.com has teamed up with Amazon to offer you some DVDs
The Australian Marine Conservation Society have some nice tees and plenty more at their store.
Lots of books about shark from the Shark Research Institute.
Why not adopt a shark at Iemanya Oceanica?
There’s lots of great gifts at the Sea Shepherd store.
Jewelery and tees at Wild Aid.
So there’s plenty there to get your teeth into this Christmas!
2009: The International Year of the Shark (December 2nd 2008)
Alex Buttigieg and Ila France Porcher of the Let Sharks Live network have announced that 2009 is to be the International Year of the Shark. With shark populations plumetting and TOTAL EXTINCTION forcecast for many species in just 10 to 15 years, we are at a vital turning point for sharks and indeed for the health of the oceans. Please find their Press Release here (pdf) where you can also get their contact info.
Shark Savers Baa Atoll Project (November 26th 2008)
Shark Savers is supporting the Baa Atoll Project in the Maldives. Specifically they are financing an educational project which is aimed at teaching children about the importance of protecting sharks. Read more about this important project here.
CNN reports on shark finning (Nov 12th 2008)
At least one of the mainstream news networks is starting to pay some serious attention to the issue of shark finning. CNN has prepared these 2 reports on shark finning and I understand they will be going into the issue in more depth on their documentary Planet in Peril.
European shark week starts today (Oct. 11th 2008)
The second, annual European Shark Week will take place from 11-19 October, 2008. It’s a unique opportunity for people across Europe to demonstrate their support for shark conservation in a way that can really effect change. This is an initiative of the Shark Alliance, there are numerous events all over Europe – if you are able to attend go along and show your support. There are also various ways you can show your support online at the Shark Alliance website.
Anti-shark finning project needs support of AmEx card holders (Sept. 15th 2008).
If you are an American Express card holder then you can help this important anti-shark finning project. All you need to do is visit this page and vote for the project. 2.5 million dollars will be awarded to the projects that get that the most votes. The project, which is called “Protect Cocos Island – World Heritage Site” is already in the top 25. So if YOU can vote there is a very good chance that you will help them get this vital funding.
Ana Martin, one of the project’s leaders says:
“Sixteen years ago I was privileged to study Cocos. I saw horrific illegal destruction of sharks. We launched a national education campaign resulting in anti-poaching legislation. The experienced changed my life. I continue my efforts to protect the island. New technology makes sharks vulnerable to destruction. But this same technology makes visual presentations more persuasive. I want to create an exhibit giving thousands of people the Cocos experience, helping them finish the job I started.”
LUSH and Sea Shepherd Launch Global Anti-Shark-Finning Campaign: Alice Newstead Hung by Actual Shark Hooks in Protest of the Slaughter (September 12th 2008)
Shoppers on Regents Street in central London likely got more than they bargained for last week. On September 3rd in a dramatic illustration of how sharks are caught and killed for their fins, Alice Newstead, performance artist and former employee of LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, voluntarily had her skin pierced with actual de-barbed shark hooks and hung suspended from the ceiling in the window of one of LUSH’s busiest shops for 15 minutes. As a crowd gathered to watch in horror, Newstead said, “I am doing this because the demand for shark fin soup and other shark products is wiping out the shark population.” Unlike the 100 million sharks who are brutally slaughtered each year for their fins, Newstead commented, “I will be left with scars, but the wounds will heal.”
(from Sea Shepherd).
Campaign to stop the sale of shark fin soup in the USA (June 14th 2008)
The Animal Welfare Institute is leading a nationwide effort to contact restaurants in the US that currently serve the highly controversial shark fin soup, asking that they consider the precarious status of many of the targeted species and stop selling the dish immediately.
The AWI is compiling a list of US restaurants that serve shark fin soup. There are plenty of cities that are not yet covered – if you know of a restaurant that serves shark fin soup, send an email to the AWI at email@example.com. Also talk to the owner about shark finning, you can also download a leaflet to give him/her (you can print this out or get copies from the AWI). You can also give them a more detailed brochure (download it here, or order copies from the AWI).
Groups supporting AWI’s campaign against shark fin soup include: Animal Protection Institute * Born Free USA * Compassion Over Killing * Environmental Investigation Agency * Food Empowerment Project * In Defense of Animals * International Fund for Animal Welfare * International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute * International Wildlife Coalition * People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals * Shark Research Institute * Shark Savers * WildAid * World Society for the Protection of Animals.
If you are on myspace add AWI as a friend – http://www.myspace.com/nosharkfinning_us.
Good news: Congress Strips US Shark Finning Ban of Loopholes (June 14th 2008)
This news item is from the Animal Welfare Institute. It is heartening to see something positive happen for sharks: WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 11, 2008) – Today, the US House Committee on Natural Resources voted in favor of H.R. 5741, the Shark Conservation Act of 2008. Introduced by Subcommittee Chairwoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), the measure will reinforce the Shark Finning Prohibition Act, which was signed into law in 2000. Read more.
Australian politicians want to start shark slaughter (May 22nd 2008)
This is of special interest to AUSTRALIANS (but everyone should write). I have just received a bulletin from Sea Shepherd explaining that Australian politicians are planning to allow the slaughter of an UNLIMITED number of sharks in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and in marine parks in Queensland waters.
Anna Bligh MP Premier of Queensland:
to demand that this legislation be quashed.
Also send an e-mail to Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett at:
More info here: http://www.seashepherd.org/news/media_080516_1.html
Without sharks these marine parks will become dangerously unbalanced and will be changed forever. Between 70 and 100 million sharks are being killed each year. Isn’t that ENOUGH??!!
The Australian Marine Conservation Society is also campaigning hard on this issue. There is a page where you can send an email to Australian politicians about this issue:
http://www. amcs. org. au/default2. asp?active_page_id=490
Shark finning is currently banned in Australian waters thanks to efforts by conservationists such as the AMCS – so this proposal is a huge step backwards and will result in the legitimisation of shark finning. Take action now!
New petition launched by New Yorkers Against Shark Finning (April 22nd 2008)
A new site has been set up by New Yorkers Against Shark Finning whose mission is to stop the serving of shark fin soup in NY restaurants and throughout the USA. They have set up a petition here. This is the list of restaurants in NY that currently serve shark fin soup. Please encourage these restaurants to stop serving shark fin soup by not eating there and contacting their owners.
Write your congress representative in support of shark conservation bill (April 15th, 2008)
This news from IEMANYA OCEANICA.
A new bill (HR 5741) has been proposed to the House of Representatives that will help in the conservation of sharks. The Shark Conservation Act of 2008 includes several measures to strengthen the implementation and enforcement of the protection of sharks under U.S. law. The bill calls for landing of whole sharks with carcass to avoid finning practices, addresses the enforcement of the prohibition of shark finning, and will promote the conservation of sharks internationally.
For more information on this bill click here. We are asking you to write to your local governement representatives to express your support of The Shark Conservation Act of 2008. To find your local representative click here. A sample letter is available here. Feel free to use the letter as a template.
Sharkwater released on DVD today (April 8, 2008)
Sharkwater is released on DVD today. Rob Stewart directed and starred in this groundbreaking underwater documentary filmed in high-definition. Sharkwater exposes the corruption, criminality and cruelty of the shark finning trade. It is currently showing in many theatres around the US, but now you can own your own copy on DVD.
Download a clip here. Buy in from Amazon here.
New Scientist article: “Shark populations hit by demand for fin soup” (7th March 2008)
Populations of tiger, bull, dusky and other sea sharks have plummeted by more than 95% since the 1970s, according to an expert from the World Conservation Union. But ongoing efforts to identify shark “hotspots” across the oceans could help improve their chances of survival in future. Read more.
The Guardian prints article about sharks facing extinction (18th February 2008)
Shark species face extinction amid overfishing and appetite for fins. Call for marine reserves to protect migration hotspots as scientists fear decline will affect other species. Read more.
Shark Fin Soup Removed From Las Vegas Restaurant Menu! (31st January 2008)
Good news from IEMANYA OCEANICA!: “Thanks to all the letters sent by Iemanya supporters, we have just received notice that the Las Vegas Sands Corporation has removed shark fin soup from their menu at the Jade Restaurant in the Palazzo Hotel.
We want to thank all of our supporters for sending out letters and appeals for removal of the soup from the menu.
We also want to commend The Sands Corporation for its concern and care for our marine environment. The decision sends out a message to the public that your corporation is wiling to take responsibility for our consumption choices and that we each have the power to make a positive change in the world.”
This shows that the tactic of approaching individual restaurants about serving shark fin soup works. If you know of a restaurant that sells shark fin soup, go there and talk to the owner of the restaurant. Explain what is happening to sharks. Many people don’t realise the desperate situation that is facing sharks – if 2 or 3 people say that they will not patronise the restaurant until they stop serving shark fin soup there is a very good chance that they will take it off the menu. It’s their restaurant, but it’s everybody’s ocean!
Las Vegas Restaurant to Serve Shark Fin Soup (30th January 2008)
Action alert from IEMANYA OCEANICA:
Thanks to a tip from one of our supporters, we learned of the corporate decision made by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation to offer shark fin soup on the menu of their Jade Restaurant in the Palazzo Hotel. We jumped to action and wrote a letter urging Mr. William Weidner (President and Chief Operating Officer) to remove shark fin soup from the menu. We have forwarded the message to other NGOs asking them to support us in this cause.
But that’s not enough.
We need your help! We need to get more people to voice their concern over this issue. With more people writing letters, we add weight to our appeal and a greater chance for success. Please help us to put a stop to this. We hope that if the Las Vegas Sands Corp. complies with our request, then others will follow their example.
Anti-shark finning painting entry in Environmental Art Show, Toronto, Canada (28 Jan)
Artist Bob Timmons has used his entry in an environmental art show in Canada to raise awareness of the huge danger that shark finning poses to the marine environment. Bob says “This is also going to be during Chinese new year and the art show is going to be in a Chinese building. I am hoping the painting gets through the Jury to Expose and Express the Emotions toward this uncontrolled situation worldwide.” The title of the painting is “One Shark Is Worth A Million Now”. The painting features a huge soup bowl, with a fin made of the bodies of dead sharks protruding from the soup. This is a great painting and an example of the way that evryone, no matter what their occupation or situation is, can make a difference. More info here.
Petition organised by the Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT) against shark finning (January 24th 2008).
Petition to the UK and EU to implement a total ban on shark finning. We, the undersigned, urge the UK Government and EU to implement a shark management plan and ban shark finning, and urge the United Nations to support a worldwide shark finning ban and demand that all nations implement the UN FAO International Plan of Action for Sharks. Please sign this petition!
The GCT also have a shark campaign going which deserves as much support as it can get.
Repugnant shark hunting “toy” made by Matchbox being sold on Amazon and WalMart (January 13th 2008).
I was alerted recently by a contact on MySpace about a toy made by Matchbox (owned by Mattel). I used to love my Matchbox cars when I was a kid so it was pretty sad to see the kind of crap they’re peddling these days. It’s a plastic boat with a harpoon mounted on it that hunts for a plastic shark that is shown eating a diver on their website. You can view the toy here, where there is a promotional video for the toy. This kind of thing just seems so out of place in today’s world, it gives the wrong idea to children about sharks and is a slap in the face to people who are concerned about conservation and the environment.
Is this the way we should teach our kids to think about sharks…?
Stores that sell this toy include AMAZON:
1200 12th Ave., Ste. 1200
Seattle, WA 98144
Phone: (206) 266-1000
Fax: (206) 622-2405
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
702 Southwest 8th Street,
You can also contact them at their “Global Ethics Office” email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
5 Questions with Wolfgang Leander-Shark Diver-Eco Warrior (9 January 2008)
SharkDiver.com talks to Wolfgang Leander about his passion for sharks, shark diving and the fight against the criminals and their corporate allies involved in shark finning.
Check it out here.
Sea Shepherd Urges Night Club to Release Captive Sharks (1 January 2008)
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society recently learned that a night club in Austin, Texas is holding several species of sharks captive beneath its dance floor.
Sea Shepherd fails to see any connection between marine wildlife conservation and the confinement of sharks in an artificial environment. Sea Shepherd objects to the disrespectful treatment of these animals as a night club novelty, lacking any recognition of their vital importance to marine ecosystems. Illegal longlining and shark finning are rapidly depleting shark populations with serious ramifications worldwide. If QUA truly cares about marine wildlife conservation, they will release these sharks into their natural environment where they belong.
More info here.
Adopt A Shark (1 January 2008)
Here’s another way you can help sharks: adopt one. AdoptAShark.com is a program run by IEMANYA OCEANICA, a non-profit organisation that is dedicated to the conservation of sharks, rays and their habitats. You can contribute to their work by adopting a shark.
Presentation of signatures to European Commission
Shark Alliance member groups from groups from the UK, Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain, Portugal, Malta, and Italy were in Brussels to present the signatures to the European Commission on 8 November.
A delegation representing groups from eight EU member states went on to meet representatives from DG Fisheries: Franz Lamplmair, Juan Pablo Pertierra, and Christos Theophilou. The 20,000 petitions were handed over to be passed on to EU Commissioner, Joe Borg.
The large number of signatures and the diverse delegation to the meeting are a clear indication of the widespread support within Europe for the conservation of sharks.
Alibaba hires Hill & Knowlton PR agency
At the end of September, Alibaba hired Hill and Knowlton, one of the world’s biggest PR agencies. This comes at a time when Alibaba is coming under increasing pressure concerning their involvement in the shark finning trade, a trade which is slaughtering 3 sharks every second in the world’s oceans to satisfy the citizens’ palates of one country, China. Hill and Knowlton are the kind of company who will say anything to make their client look good and are are usually hired by corporations in times of crisis. See this Hill and Knowlton profile which lists many of their clients and describes their contribution to the degradation of the planet and their corporate crimes.
Wolfgang Leander of Oceanic Dreams has recently written several letters to Hill and Knowlton, and he eventually received a reply from their Hong Kong offices Managing Director, Denise Maguire:
Dear Mr Leander,
Thank you for your emails to Hill & Knowlton. We have discussed this matter with our client and Alibaba’s stance on this matter is that the company appreciates the concerns of animal rights activists and is keen to continue engaging in a dialogue. According to the company’s Product Listing Policy, the listing or sale of any animal (including any animal parts which may include pelts, skins, internal organs, teeth, claws, shells, bones, tusks, ivory and other parts) protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) or any other local law or regulation is strictly forbidden on Alibaba. At this point shark’s fin is not among those products.
The company remains sensitive to concerns and will continue to monitor the situation and will review its current policies from time to time to ensure they are aligned with what customers, investors and partners expect. Alibaba.com takes responsibility for the content they post on the business-to-business marketplace. The company gives its members the choice of what products and services to list on its websites, so long as they use Alibaba.com.
We are not in a position to comment further on this matter.
Managing Director, Hill & Knowlton Hong Kong
Wolfgang’s reply is below:
Dear Ms. Maguire:
Thank you for writing. Unfortunately you, and your client, miss the point completely. You quote CITES. We are well aware of the convention.
It is not the legality of the shark fin trade we are concerned about, although it is common knowledge that much of the trade is illegal and difficult to control, especially for an online brokerage company – what we find alarming is that while killing sharks en masse for their fins has become an ecological issue of great world-wide concern, only the * ill-intentioned* such as your client either ignore or down-play it in order to keep profiting from the business.
Also, let me clearly state that we are not “animal rights activists”. The issue is not about the ‘abuse’ of sharks, this is about their survival and hence about saving the oceans from an irreversible environmental catastrophe which in the end concerns us all, including Mr. Ma and his descendants.
The Alibaba executives are not telling you the truth; they are not “keen to continue engaging in a dialogue”; they never were. They are NOT sensitive to “concerns” as you put it.
While I understand that you are siding with your client, you are not doing them a favor.
Eventually, Alibaba will suffer imagewise (and financially) from actively promoting a highly controversial business. As PR advisors to them you should not take this lightly. If they don’t know (or care) what is at stake, you should.
You advertise our expertise in “Corporate Reputation Watch” – this is what you will have to focus on with Alibaba.com.
I urge you to email Denise Maguire, requesting that Hill and Knowlton tell their client Alibaba to stop its involvement in the “business” of shark finning:
Sea Shepherd is campaigning against Yahoo’s involvement in shark finning trade.
I was very happy to hear that Sea Shepherd are giving Yahoo some stick for their involvement with Alibaba and the shark finning trade. From the Sea Shepherd web site:
“Yahoo! Invests in Shark Finning
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was recently alerted to Yahoo! Inc.’s investment in the deplorable shark fin industry. Yahoo! is a 40% owner of Alibaba, a Chinese company that trades in shark fins and contributes to the senseless and agonizing deaths of sharks worldwide…”
Read more here.
Captain Paul Watson has written this letter to Susan Decker, President of Yahoo. Why not write her also? This is the address:
President Yahoo! Inc.
701 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
Phone: (408) 349-3300
Fax: (408) 349-3301
The Ocean Realm Society launches “Fear Man” campaign (15 September 2007)
The Ocean Realm Society is working to stop Alibaba, eBay and Pacific-Rim Gourmet from trading on-line in shark fins and other parts. Worth noting the lame email they got from Porter Erisman (email@example.com) of Alibaba repeating their silly mantra “It is not a question of whether or not we are “for” or “against” shark fin trade. We just don’t see our role as an arbiter on this issue.” So why don’t they sell human body parts? As they are being totally “amoral”, and don’t take positions. All they care about is whether it is “legal” or not. However, neither Porter or Cristina Splindler have replied to my letters requesting that they categorically state that they have NOT traded in shark fins from these 3 CITES listed species: the whale shark, the great white shark and the basking shark. The reason they have not replied is that they DO NOT KNOW whether they have traded in fins of these sharks because firstly, there is no requirement that traders state what type of sharks they are trading in, and secondly, they have no control over what shark traders actually do.
Most recent email to Alibaba (15 September 2007)
This is an email I sent to Porter Erisman of Alibaba today:
Do you know if any of your traders have traded in fins of:
the whale shark, the great white shark or the basking shark?
Do you require that traders list the species of shark fins they trade in? If not, how do you know if they are CITES listed? In other words, how do you know if Alibaba is breaking the law?
Feel free to send one yourself (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Action Alert: – URGENT! HELP US SAVE OUR SHARKS FROM SENSELESS SLAUGHTER!
Just a simple email petition. To sign the petition, just send your name, email address and comments to
In the subject line add: Shark Petition, then forward this email to as many people
Here are the details:
A group of anglers in KwaZulu Natal are planning a shark fishing competition on the weekend of the 18th and 19th August. They’ve advertised in the Natal Deep Sea Rod and Reel Club newsletter and will catch and kill the sharks, not tag and release them. Their motivation is that their catches are often taken by sharks and “a number of anglers have now got together to find out for themselves what is going on with regards to the shark numbers”, to quote from their newsletter.
In the guise of a very questionable charity event, they will target sharks over 20 kilograms and “donate” the fins through a local Asian buyer, and further donate potentially mercury contaminated meat to an underprivileged children’s home. Contradicting their implications that there are too many sharks, they add that they cannot find any to satisfy their foreign clients who are only interested in catching sharks – another serious concern (see full details from newsletter on the AOCA website on the link What’s Up). As it stands the competition is illegal as it goes against recreational permit conditions.
In light of the severe plight of shark populations worldwide, including in South Africa as depicted in our recent documentary Sharks in Deep Trouble, we cannot condone the unnecessary slaughter of animals that are in desperate need of protection. The motivation for this competition is unacceptable and not supported by scientists.
Considering the overwhelming slaughter of over 100 million sharks per year, which is driving many shark species to extinction, we fight an uphill battle to make a difference in saving them.
We need your help through this petition to stop this competition, and also to put pressure on Marine and Coastal Management to change the current recreational fishing limits of sharks of 10 per day per fisherman. We demand adequate scientific evidence, thus far lacking, to support this number, and failing which a precautionary approach for deciding daily shark catch limits. We’ve only got a few days and need all the support we can get to make a difference.
To enter the petition send your name, email address and comments to email@example.com In the subject line add: Shark Petition, then forward this email to as many people as possible – the number of people who sign will determine the impact we have.
Information via AfriOceans Conservation Alliance: http://www.aoca.org.za
Manifesto for world-wide shark conservation (12 August 2007)
A manifesto prepared by Alessandro De Maddalena, Sean Van Sommeran and Wolfgang Leander and signed by 139 shark researchers lists several important actions that must be taken urgently in order to conserve rapidly dwindling shark populations. They include:
– protection of all endangered shark species
– total ban on shark finning in national and international waters
– management of fisheries in which sharks constitute significant bycatch
– management of directed shark fisheries
– control of trade and utilization of shark products
– investment of resources into research on sharks to better assess stock status and harvest impact
View the manifesto here.
URGENT – Galapagos sharks in danger – letter to President Correa of Ecuador (12 August 2007).
Wolfgang Leander, Director of Shark Conservation at the Ocean Realm Society, has written this letter to President Correa of Ecuador regarding the dire plight of sharks in the Galapagos Islands area and in Ecuador’s national waters. Please show your support for shark consevation by sending an email of protest concerning the shark finning issue to President Correa at the following email address:
StopSharkFinning.net interviewed by Business Week. (5 August 2007)
I was recently interviewed by Business Week for an article on Alibaba’s role in the revolting business of shark finning. It’s good to see some major press coverage although there were a couple of factual inaccuracies in the final article and needless to say Alibaba get off very lightly. The writer Bruce Einhorn states categorically “Sharks are not on the CITES protected list” – not true – as is stated in our letter to Alibaba, there are 3 shark species listed on CITES: the whale shark, the great white shark and the basking shark. Where does Bruce get his information from? Alibaba?
Alibaba spokesperson Christina Splinder claims there has been an “an open dialog with activists”, although I have yet to see any evidence of it whatsoever. She says “We took their suggestions and opinions on board and reviewed our policies. We decided that our current policy is the appropriate policy at this time.” That’s basically code for “we completely ignored what they were saying because we want to carry on making as much money as possible out of this shady business – we couldn’t care less about sharks or marine ecology”.
Splinder also states: “We respect our members’ rights to make their own decisions on issues of cultural tradition.” Let us for a moment just suppose that the “right” of a people to pursue their cultural practices is the overiding issue (more important even than the right of a species to exist). How will the Chinese be able to continue eating shark fin soup when shark populations collapse completely? Alibaba foolishly fail to recognise that the continued practice of shark finning is of benefit to nobody, not even shark fin soup consumers, and not even Alibaba.
Alibaba confuse the “cultural tradition” of eating shark fin soup with the issue of shark finning. Alibaba promote the sale of shark fins, not shark fin soup. The distinction is an important one to make because it is the shark finning trade which is the real problem. If there was a legal requirement that all sharks be landed with their fins attached, and if that legal requirement was strictly enforced, shark populations would not be falling the way they are, and there would be no need to boycott shark fin soup. People would be able to eat shark fin soup knowing that the shark had not been killed only for its fins. Alibaba are promoting the trade of shark finning – the “trade” of killing sharks solely for their fins. There are poorly enforced laws that are supposed to regulate shark finning. Even these inadequate laws are broken because the lure of big money is too tempting for unprincipled people. Shark finners operate in a corrupt unscrupulous underworld where legal requirements are bypassed or simply don’t exist: Alibaba are their middlemen.
Yahoo involvement in brutal shark finning trade exposed on ABC EyeWitness News (July 2007)
Yahoo has a one-billion-dollar stake in Alibaba.com. Alibaba is the New York Stock Exchange of shark fins on the Internet, moving thousands and thousands of tons of shark fins worldwide. View this excellent video and article from KABC-TV. In response to the criticism of its support of the shark fin trade Yahoo says that the issue is one of “cultural practices”. Yahoo must be very naive if they believe that people will not see through that poor excuse. Demand for shark fins will soon result in the extinction of shark species. How will the Chinese be able to “practice their culture” when there are no sharks left in the ocean?
Check out ViceZilla’s blog on Yahoo’s response to news articles on its involvement in the shark fin trade.
Alibaba in theory do not allow the sale of species listed by CITES. However, as many of the companies listing products for sale on their website do not specify what type of shark is being sold it is likely that illegal fins are being sold. Moreover, CITES classifications are woefully inadequate and limited, as revealed by the latest CITES meeting which took place this June and at which Spiny Dogfish and Porbeagle sharks were not listed even though their populations have declined drastically in recent years.
If Alibaba truly had any concern whatsoever for the welfare of sharks they would preferably ban the listing of shark fins and all shark products, or at the very least do the following:
1. Require that companies specify exactly which species of shark fin is being sold.
2. Take a more proactive stance on shark conservation by banning the sale of fins taken from any species listed as endangered on the IUCN red list.
However, ultimately the only aceptable solution is a complete ban on shark fin trading on Alibaba (and world wide), because once buyers have made contact with the companies selling on Alibaba trade in any animal product could take place (the initial trade could be for a “legal” product, subsequent trades, not through Alibaba, could be in illegal products).