Saturday, December 20, 2008

China's Largest Shopping Site Bans Sale of Shark Fin Products

Editors Note: Starting January 1, 2009 we attempted to purchase sharks fin via the website. After 7 days we were able to source over 80,000lbs of sharks fin from nine of eleven sellers we contacted in a classic loophole.

This represents a massive roll out failure on the part of and sister company

For now we have given them an "F" and ask that you disregard the following press release.

, Dec. 19 -- The International Fund for Animal Welfare ( congratulates Taobao (, China's largest shopping website for its ban on the sale of shark fin products on the site. announced to its 400 million online members that all shark fin products will be banned from trade on starting 1, January 2009.

The announcement was made as part of a campaign IFAW and Taobao collaboratively initiated to combat online wildlife crime. In the unprecedented collaboration, IFAW and share information about online illegal wildlife trade and jointly raise consumer awareness about the detrimental impact wildlife trade has on species in the wild.

Asia is the main market for shark fin products. In major cities in China, shark fin soup is readily available on the menu in restaurants. With the coming of Chinese New Year Festivals, shark fin soup consumption will significantly increase.

However, fueled by big profit margins and the increase in shark fin consumption, overfishing of sharks is threatening more than 50 percent of the shark species with extinction. As top predators in the ocean, sharks play an important role in keeping ecosystem balance. However, an estimated 100 million sharks are killed globally each year.

"Consuming shark fin is not only harmful to the marine biodiversity, but promotes the cruel practice of shark finning, where sharks had their fins cut off then thrown back into the ocean, still alive, die a horribly painful death." said Grace Gabriel, IFAW's Asia Regional Director. "It is our choice as consumers to say No to shark fin products. Consuming wildlife equals killing."

Taobao's decision to ban shark fin was also applauded by its users. In an online message, a Hangzhou netizen condemns the shark fin trade by posting shocking pictures of shark finning. According to this posting, 5000 Kilos of shark fin are consumed daily in Beijing alone. Active Taobao users also call on others to report online shark fin sales to site management when the notice takes effect in January.

Peter Pueschel, IFAW's Program Manager hailed the move. "This is really amazing and wonderful that the leading cyber market provider in the biggest shark fin consumer nation bans shark fins. What a strong signal to other auction sites and governments in other parts of the world!"

1 comment:

RTSea said...

This is indeed good news - a solid step forward in a battle with many more steps to come.

What I found most heartening in this announcement was that not only was a company taking initiative in reducing the availability of shark products, but there also appears to be some positive traction in consumer opinion - in this case, Asian users of the site.

With the demand for shark products being so steeped in Asian culture, having an impact on the demand for shark fins has been most challenging - it's not all business, it's cultural too. We must work towards more international protections of shark species but we must also continue to enlighten the users so as to reduce or eliminate consumer demand.

Congratulations to for their conscientious forward thinking!