Originally posted June 2, 2010.
Reality is a funny thing. For example, today I was in a meeting on Clement Ave in San Francisco talking about my favorite subject sharks, and the shark fin trade.
The proposed solutions being bandied about ran the gamut, much of it the same old campaigning rhetoric that's been at the forefront of the anti-shark fin movement for a few years now.
We also discussed the achievements in Hawaii recently, a rare and invigoration success in regional anti-shark fin legislation.
Strolling out of the meeting and walking into a shark fin store just across the street, I was struck by the global trade itself, and how we are not addressing shark fin trade cohesively from the trade side.
The reality of the moment.
If you understand that statement then you understand the need for a radical change in our approach to the global shark fin trade.
If you think we as shark conservationist are addressing the global trade side of shark fins, then continue to drink the cool-aid my friend - and add another petition to the fire.
Non-Asians, no matter how talented, important, or media savvy can't dictate what Asians may or may not consume.
You cannot frighten your conservation opponent into stopping lawful or illegal trade.
The global shark fin trade is like a water balloon, if you squeeze one side it balloons out.
Money drives conservation. Without long term conservation funding the effort is not sustainable.
Conservation groups spend far too much time searching for money to be effective.
Direct action serves only to harden your opposition and drive trade underground.
The global shark fin trade encompasses every coastal nation on the planet, including the USA. It is estimated to be a 500-1 billion dollar industry. It is vertically integrated with well established trade routes. It has politicians, hundreds of thousands of poor people, and even enforcement officials working for it.
Can it be stopped?
That's the million dollar question and all questions begin with a quick reality check.
I am very keen to see the conservation side tap into the unlimited budgets they need to effect conservation change. I am also very keen to support out of the box ideas tackling the global shark fin trade. How about we look at the trade under the global lens and develop unified strategies that work?
Money, enforcement, and strategy will effect conservation change.
Without each side in play, the whole will fail, and that's the final reality of today's reality check.
Patric Douglas CEO