Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Alibaba.com-Selling sharks fin 5000 kilos a week

Last month online sharks fin trader Alibaba.com and parent company Taobao.com put out a press release stating "Taobao.com announced to its 400 million online members that all shark fin products will be banned from trade on Taobao.com starting 1, January 2009."

Full release here.

This release was heralded by the conservation community as an exciting development. Net the fact Yahoo! was still heavily invested in Alibaba.com and had never disavowed the rampant sale of sharks fin via a web portal they had invested billions in. In many cases sellers were producing and selling 5000-10,000 kilos of sharks fin per week-1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds.

While we are cautiously optimistic about this announcement we decided to run with the old adage "trust but verify". Unfortunately over the past 7 days of verification we have come across a 98% continuing sales rate of sharks fin at Alibaba.com.

The problem is "window dressing". While Alibaba.com has stopped all overt sales of sharks fin via web searches, they have not stopped buyers from asking the sellers of sea products directly for sharks fin. Over the past 7 days we have posed as three different buyers asking for 5000 kilos a week (11,000 pounds) of product from various sellers.

We posed this question to eleven sellers. Nine answered positively, we did not get a response from two others. The aggregate total of sharks fin we were able to source in just 7 days from Alibaba.com, was a staggering 40,000 kilo or 88,000 lbs.

Here is one example from just one inquiry:

From:Mr XXX XXX
Date:Mon, Jan 05 2009 01:14:24 (GMT)

Dear Mr. XXX XXX,

Thank you very much for your message.

As per your requirement we can supply you good quality product Shark Fin's from XXX at reasonable price.

Kindly mail us.

Yours sincerely,
XXX XXX

XXX,
XXX, Bangladesh.
Mobile :XXX
Fax: XXX
E-mail: XXX
MSN: XXX

Message IP Address:123.xx.xx.*
Message Origin:Bangladesh

Alibaba.com aims to provide you with accurate Sender Details, we are not able to fully guarantee the accuracy of every Sender's IP information.

Note: The final legal wording on this email "Alibaba
.com is neither responsible nor liable for any of the above information."

7 comments:

Desidiver said...

its a sad thing that the fishermen in the 3rd world south asian countries don't realize the importance of shark conservation. they just fish them like any other fish... the demand has to stop....

Capt Dave Richards said...

eBay managed to stop Elephant Ivory sales on it's site in just one week.

What is it that this online trading company cannot do the same?

Desire and money=greed.

Thanks for the poast!

Anonymous said...

I knew it, they are not being true to their word.

Sea Steward said...

Excellent follow up Patric. Although some divestment is a step in teh right direction, Alibaba can takle the next step by notifying their vendors that they cannot sell illegal or unsustainable products off their portal even if alibaba will not carry them online.
We cant stop the illegal trade but we can make it harder by reducing the legitamacy of the business.
How do we bring this up louder?

Shark Diver said...

Hi David,

For those who have not seen Davids film "Sharks Stewards of the Reef" ensure that in 2009 you do, it's a great piece of eco film making.

Some in the coalition behind the Alibaba.com effort are split as to what to do next. We're pretty sure more pressure is needed.

80,000lbs of sharks fin in 7 days is a massive roll out failure and a PR black eye for Alibaba.com.

Put another way if you changed the wording of "Sharks Fin" to say, "Anthrax" you get where I am coming from. Your points are valid and we'll post them.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say(especially as i am a british bengali)that the traders on other trade sites are still advertising shark fins i was searching for dried fish(shutki)from bangladesh and to my horror nearly all of the suppliers advertised sharkfin...needless to say i did not nor will not buy from them!!hope something gets done soon as good shutki is hard to come by!!kabirmiah00@hotmail.co.uk

john said...

the problem is not with the fishermen rather the lack of knowledge about sharks...

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