Prices and sales of shark fin are falling in China by 50-70% according to a new report released today by WildAid. “Evidence of Declines in Shark Fin Demand, China” compiles public opinion surveys, surveys from shark fin vendors and traders in the markets of Guangzhou, China (the current center of China’s shark fin trade) and surveys of shark fin price data from Indonesian shark fishermen, as well trade statistics and media reports.
A sea turtle spots a plastic bag floating among the waves. To him, it looks like a jellyfish, its general shape and consistency swaying and catching the light in just the right way. He swims toward it and ingests the bag in one gulp, satisfying his hunger, and then goes on his away. In actuality, that plastic bag lines his gut, causing digestive blockages and the sea turtle’s eventual death from starvation.
This story is all too common in the marine environment. In fact, a study estimated that more than half the world’s sea turtles and a staggering 90% of sea birds had ingested some form of plastic. Earlier this year, 13 sperm whales washed up in Germany and their necropsies revealed stomachs full of plastic waste including a 43-foot-long shrimp fishing net, a plastic car engine cover and a plastic bucket. Plastic and other debris, including discarded fishing lines and nets (also called “ghost nets”), are not just ingested, but also account for thousands of casualties. Sharks, whales and mantas that get tangled up in nets either suffer life-threatening injuries from their attempts to escape or they simply remain trapped eventually drowning to death.
Over the past few years, a growing number of shipping companies and airlines have stepped up to save sharks in one simple yet powerful way: banning shark fin shipments. Multi billion-dollar industry leaders including UPS, Cosco and American Airlines have all clarified their cargo policies to prohibit such shipments.
Now, global advocates are turning their attention to one powerful hold-out: FedEx. Over the weekend, WildAid and our campaign Shark Savers teamed up with Oceanic Preservation Society to support a series of protests at FedEx locations from Hong Kong to Boston urging the company to adopt a fin-free policy.
International wildlife trafficking is worth an estimated $10-20 billion per year annually, making it one of the world’s largest illicit trades after illegal drugs, arms and human trafficking. The United States is a chief consumer of wildlife products (both legal and illegal), but a recent poll commissioned by WildAid found 80 percent of Americans know little or nothing about illegal wildlife trade within the United States. As a result, travelers often are unaware that products they bring into the United States are prohibited.
Cathay Pacific today joined over 30 other global passenger airlines in banning the carriage of all shark fin cargo. We are delighted and applaud Cathay for taking this positive step. By imposing a 100% total ban with immediate effect, Hong Kong's flag carrier has shown it is serious about protecting sharks and our global marine ecosystem.
In a study published this week, scientists from the National Geographic Society and Charles Darwin Research Station found that Darwin and Wolf in the Galapagos Islands is home to the world's largest shark biomass (the total mass of sharks in a given area) in the world.
This is especially welcome news as sharks continue to be hunted for the shark fin trade — with an estimated 73 million sharks killed annually. According to lead author Pelayo Salinas de Leon, "[T]he islands of Darwin and Wolf are jewels in the crown of the Galapagos,” due to the abundance of these top predators indicating a healthy marine ecosystem.
However, the two-year study funded by Helmsley Charitable Trust also found that reef fish in the area have been severely reduced due to overfishing. To protect its marine life, the Ecuadorian government created a marine sanctuary at Darwin and Wolf in March.
With recent reports showing that a vast majority of Hong Kong restaurants continue to serve shark fin soup — often with no shark fin alternatives on the menu — protestors led by Hong Kong Shark Foundation and WildAid Hong Kong have stepped up efforts to expose the truth behind the delicacy.
We are thrilled to sponsor the Chinese exhibition of On Sharks & Humanity, featuring groundbreaking works from Chinese contemporary artists on behalf of global shark conservation.
Premiering late last week in Beijing, On Sharks & Humanity is the National Museum of China’s first exhibit with an environmental theme, according to WildAid China.
“I decided to use art to represent the concern towards sharks,” said George Wong, Parkview Arts Action’s founder and president who conceived of the exhibit. “I hope that at first people will sympathize with sharks, and then feel disgusted and sick towards the violence that is being exerted against them.”
Good news! On Tuesday evening, UPS, the world's largest package delivery company, tweeted that it has banned shark fin shipments following consultation with World Wildlife Fund. UPS had faced mounting criticism by wildlife groups including WildAid after the Costa Rican NGO Pretoma released evidence of UPS shark fin shipments bound for Hong Kong by way of the United States.
WildAid is proud to be an NGO member of the new United States Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, announced by the White House on Wednesday.
This partnership has three primary objectives:
Raise the public’s awareness of the scope of the wildlife trafficking crisis, including the illegal trade’s devastating impact on elephants, rhinos, tigers and other irreplaceable species, and illegal traffickers’ role in funding global corruption and terrorism;
Reduce consumer demand for wildlife and wildlife products (WildAid’s core organizational mission); and
Mobilize companies to adopt best practices to insure that their goods and services are not being utilized by illegal wildlife traffickers, and to assist in raising public awareness and reducing demand.