Oct. 16, 2018 – As part of its efforts to reduce shark fin consumption in mainland China, WildAid has launched a multimedia animated campaign that depicts how sharks are caught, finned, and served at weddings. The campaign is running in Guangzhou, Guangdong, Fujian, and Guangxi provinces, where wedding banquets commonly include shark fin soup.
“Even though shark fin consumption is falling around China, it’s still a staple dish at wedding banquets throughout the Cantonese-speaking regions of southern China,” said Steve Blake, China Chief Representative at WildAid. “Instead of starting a married life with an unsustainable dish that furthers a legacy of environmental destruction, couples have the opportunity to offer traditional alternatives that reflect good fortune.”
A recent WildAid survey at the Guangzhou Wedding Expo showed that a majority of venues offer shark fin soup. Of the 31 wedding venues audited, 21 (69%) offered meal packages that included shark fin soup. As shark fin is traditionally the most expensive item at a wedding banquet, it is perceived as a way for the host to show respect to guests.
The wedding campaign’s images and animation were created in partnership with Guangzhou creative agency, i2mago, and artist Zhai Yanjun. The coloring, music, art, and city scenes are all based on classical Cantonese styles and inspired by “Along the River During Qingming Festival,” a well-known panoramic Chinese painting by artist Zhang Zeduan.
“By using a classical style of artwork and scenes full of traditional elements, we hope to show that there are many traditions worth continuing today,” explained artist Zhai Yanjun, “but the ecological damage and cruelty from shark finning is not one of them.”
To encourage viewer engagement, i2mago also created an interactive mobile experience using 360° gravity sensing technology. As the mobile phone moves, the viewer can move through the scene. Once the viewer enters the doors to the wedding, the focus shifts to the shark fin soup on the table, tracing the process of making the dish all the way back to when the shark is first caught in the open ocean. The video ends with the message, “celebrate marriage, refuse the slaughter of sharks.”
The artwork was launched with media partner JCDecaux on a 40-meter-long wall in the Guangzhou subway, and hundreds of billboards are being placed around Guangdong, Fujian, and Guangxi provinces throughout September and October.
Vulnerable shark species face extreme population pressures due to overfishing. Around 100 million sharks are unsustainably killed each year, with fins from up to 73 million of those used for shark fin soup. According to a recent study published in Marine Policy, the global shark catch has more than doubled to 1.4 million tonnes in the last six decades, threatening almost 60 percent of shark species.
Thanks to years-long public awareness campaigns, demand for shark fin in China is trending downwards. Government statistics reveal an 80% reduction in shark fin consumption as well as 81% declines in the country’s shark fin imports and sales in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou between 2010 and 2014. Unfortunately, though, the decline in demand for fins in Mainland China is offset by expanding and emerging markets like Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan, China, as well as other countries like Thailand. WildAid continues to work in those regions to educate people about the need to conserve sharks and end the consumption of shark fin soup.
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WildAid is a non-profit organization with a mission to protect wildlife from illegal trade and other imminent threats. While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid primarily works to reduce global consumption of wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and shark fin soup. With an unrivaled portfolio of celebrity ambassadors and a global network of media partners, WildAid leverages more than $308 million in annual pro-bono media support with a simple message: When the Buying Stops, the Killing Can Too.
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