Thanks to a former NBA star, a coalition of Chinese business leaders, celebrities and students, and some unlikely investigative journalism, eating shark fin soup is no longer fashionable here. But what really tipped the balance was a government campaign against extravagance that has seen the soup banned from official banquets.
“People said it was impossible to change China, but the evidence we are now getting says consumption of shark fin soup in China is down by 50 to 70 percent in the last two years,” said Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid, a San Francisco-based group that has promoted awareness about the shark trade. The drop is also reflected in government and industry statistics.
“It is a myth that people in Asia don’t care about wildlife,” Knights said. “Consumption is based on ignorance rather than malice. ”
The dramatic expansion in China’s middle and upper classes has transformed the country into a major driver of global wildlife trafficking. The Obama administration is so concerned about Chinese demand for endangered wildlife that it made the subject an important part of its bilateral dialogue this year.
More than 70 million sharks were killed last year, largely to satisfy rapacious demand from China’s newly rich for shark fin soup.
Lavish spending by China’s wealthy has also sent demand for ivory skyrocketing, fueling a massive expansion in elephant poaching in Africa.
The consequences of the traffic go beyond a crisis for wildlife. The illegal ivory trade has financed global crime networks and local insurgents, including Somalia’s al-Shabab — responsible for last month’s attack on a Nairobi shopping mall.
“Conservation is more about China now than it is about Africa,” said Knights. “China can be the savior of wildlife or it can be the demise of it.”
Posts tagged sharks.
Global Shark Tracker, tracks tagged sharks around the world. I played with the map and found “Albert,” a 2.9 meter, 500 lbs Great White Shark that lives off the coast of South Africa.
A: Population growth. There are more people in the water than ever before.
Yao Ming recently launched a public awareness campaign in china targeting the nation’s consumption of ivory and rhino horn, after having spent twelve days last august in kenya and south africa.
poaching kills more than 25,000 african elephants annually, while 668 rhinos were killed last year in south africa alone, meaning that if current trends are not abated, both species will be extinct within our lifetime.
according to shark fin traders and hong kong import statistics, yao’s previous campaign against the shark fin trade is credited with a 50-70% reduction in chinese consumption last year.
"no one who sees the results firsthand, as i did, would buy ivory or rhino horn," yao stated. “i believe when people in china know what’s happening they will do the right thing and say no to these products."
he continued, “we would be outraged if people were killing our pandas. we should be just as upset with what’s happening to rhinos and elephants in africa.”
I was lucky enough to work closely with the very talented Steve De Neef during my work with the whale sharks of Oslob last year. Steve is one of my favourite conservation documenters - he spends time getting to know the conservation issue at hand, speaking to all the stakeholders involved getting information from all sides, and then producing high quality articles and documentaries helping to spread awareness and inspiration.
This is a reel of some of the projects he was involved with last year and a short snippet of an interview with me.
Why aren’t you following mad-as-a-marine-biologist!!?? Samantha runs a great tumblr, and her work is incredibly important. Do check her out if you can.
Disgusting, shocking expose by Agence France-Presse. Hong-Kong. After people complained, tens of thousands of shark fins were brought to the roof tops to dry. The article says they did this to hide the fins from the public because of increased awareness of animal cruelty.
Shark fin traders in Hong Kong have taken to drying freshly sliced fins on rooftops since a public outcry over them drying the fins on public sidewalks forced them to move the trade out of sight.
Activists have raised concerns that the over-harvesting of fins is causing an environmental calamity. Although sales have fallen in recent years Hong Kong remains one of the world’s biggest markets for shark fins, which are used to make soup that is an expensive staple at Chinese banquets. NBC
I can’t stomach watching the process of shark finning (more videos here). Basically, they catch the shark, cut off its fins, and throw the shark back into the ocean - alive and awake. The sharks bleed to death and/or suffocate since they can’t swim.
But saying “gross” or “I’m sad” is not enough. There are a variety of ways you can help stop finning.
Sharks are threatened by climate change. Increased temperatures are affecting their habitat and food supplies around the globe. Changes to their habitat threaten their survival.
Last year, Discovery reported the world’s first hybrid shark and speculated it had adapted to climate change. They speculated that two separate shark species paired as a result of climate change. It was the first time a shark hybrid has been found and scientists speculated they were evolving, e.g., they adapted to increased temperatures.
The Australian black-tip is slightly smaller than its common cousin and can only live in tropical waters, but its hybrid offspring have been found 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) down the coast, in cooler seas.
It means the Australian black-tip could be adapting to ensure its survival as sea temperatures change because of global warming.
"If it hybridizes with the common species it can effectively shift its range further south into cooler waters, so the effect of this hybridizing is a range expansion," Morgan said.
"It’s enabled a species restricted to the tropics to move into temperate waters." Via Discovery
Adaptation is not fast enough. Habitat and food supplies are quickly being destroyed, not to mention ocean currents are shifting, adding additional pressure on marine life. Most importantly, the incredible increases wealth in China and Asia generally has increased demand for shark fin soup, which is considered a delicacy.
Gordan Ramsay, an A-list celebrity chef, was doused with gasoline and held at gun-point while exposing shark finning on his TV show last year. He tried the soup and deemed it unremarkable and bland, comparing the soup to eating salted potatoes.
He was horrified and sickened at the process (warning: very tough to watch. Several sharks are hacked live). Chef Ramsay subsequently advocated for the finning of these amazing animals to stop. He helped contribute to the passage of a bill banning shark fin soup in the U.S.
There are several ways to stop finning: Pressuring grocery stores and Asian markets, writing congress (it works, I swear), contributing cash and volunteer time to anti-finning campaigns, passing the word around to educate others, and signing petitions.
- And thanks for reading my post. m
Preggers whale shark rescued from rope around her neck. Whale sharks are threatened because their food systems - namely coral reefs - are collapsing from rising temperatures. See here for more about climate threats to coral reefs and the animals that depend on them as feeding grounds.
Also, check out the great tumblr ecocides:
A group of divers in Mexico rescue a pregnant whale shark from almost certain death on Wednesday. The divers, who were on a routine tourist trip to a marine nature reserve in Roca Partida, cut a thick rope which had got caught around its body. The whale shark was around 10 metres long and weighed about 15 tonnes.
Gorgeous shots of a mature great white. Took the photographer three days and the loss of several rubber decoy seals to get these. Backstory, here. More photos, click the link below.
Sharknado! And you thought weatherapocalypse movies were dead…
Discussion of AB 376, which banned shark finning in California. Here’s an interesting argument against the bill: Senator Huff Opposes Shark Fin Ban Bill.
Finned and left to drown.
Another critically endangered grey nurse shark has washed up on an eastern Australian beach, with its fins removed. The first shark washed up in early August and was a rare young breeding female with both dorsal fins removed - a huge blow.
“The shark was still alive when it was found on the beach and suffered a slow, cruel death.” said MP Cate Faehrmann.
An investigation is under way but the fact of the matter is that current rules and regulations are simply not enough…
Shark finning is gnarly.
Reducing demand for shark fin soup is the most important thing we can do to protect sharks from being driven to extinction. This demand has created the unsustainable, virtually unrestrained killing of sharks. Tens of millions of sharks a year are killed for the shark fin trade.
A survey conducted by our PR agency Grayling in Singapore confirmed findings of a 2011 Bloom study in Hong Kong indicating a significant number of people in Chinese communities are aware of the problems associated with shark fin soup. They want to stop or curtail their consumption. But our study also found that despite their willingness to stop eating shark’s fin soup, they continue to eat and even serve it because of the strong social pressure to do so. More cultural reinforcement is necessary to show that now is the time to act on your convictions and reject shark fin soup.
Sign the petition, spread the word. Shark finning needs to END.
Amazing shark that lives with a weird vampire, eye-ball sucking thing.
Eqalussuaq [Inuit] - Somniosus microcephalus (The Greenland Shark)
The Greenland shark is big, slow, and an apex predator of the sea. Despite its top speed of not over 2 mph (and this fast only in short sprints - it generally moves under 1 mph), it is still the second-largest carnivorous fish on Earth, and has been found with polar bear, reindeer, narwhal, and even other sharks in its stomach. Of course, although the Greenland shark is decent at hunting sharks, (sleeping) seals, and fish in the water, the polar bear and reindeer remains are from carrion that drifted to the bottom of the ocean. It’s an opportunistic predator, and will try to eat almost anything in its path.
Over 90% of the arctic Greenland sharks are hosts to the parasitic copepod Ommatokoita elongata (seen in the illustration), which has evolved to permanently attach themselves to the corneas of the genus Somnosius. They absorb nutrients through the blood vessels in the eyes and corneal fluid, and cause serious vision impairment in those affected by their presence. However, since the Greenland shark lives up to 7,200 ft (2,200 m) below the surface, it has little use of eyesight to begin with, and is believed to be largely unharmed by the presence of eyeball-sucking copepods tagging along on their corneas.
A History of the Fishes of the British Isles. Jonathan Couch, 1868.