Thursday, January 20, 2011 Celebrates 5 Million Members Milestone - Sells Sharks Fin, the second largest B2B online trading marketplace on the planet is celebrating, and this week we received an invitation to join the online sales of...dried sharks fin.

We have been tracking the online sales of dried and fresh shark fin after stopped selling all shark fin in 2008.

At the time was the single largest purveyor of shark fin on the Internet. Moving thousands of tons of shark fin each month.

The results from our tracking are not good, and trade continues unabated on several sites like and others.

While celebrates 5 million registered users this week, shark fin traders from around the world have another reason to celebrate as shark fin from Morocco, New Zealand, and Oman make their way to waiting international markets.

Anyone up for round two?

Cristina Zenato - First Lady of Shark Diving

In the world of commercial shark diving there is only one Cristina Zenato.

She is the First Lady of Shark Diving having shepherded the commercial shark encounter program at UNEXSO in the Bahamas for years making it her own.

Today she is the head of diving at UNEXSO and this week it was announced that Cristina will be inducted in The Women's Divers Hall of Fame.

As far as we're concerned, this honor could not have happened soon enough.

For those who do not know her, Cristina is one of the most dedicated shark handlers on the planet. She is also a long time shark conservationist as well.

Kudos to Cristina. If you're lucky enough to meet her or get to dive with her you'll soon come to understand why she will be inducted into The Women's Divers Hall of Fame along with other industry luminaries like Dr. Carole Baldwin, Dr. Ann H Kristovich, and Capt. Diann Karin Lynn.

Today was a good day for the industry.

Sharks - the Science - the Success!

Over in Fiji Da Shark and his entire team have a lot to be proud of when it comes to templates for sustainable and research interactive commercial shark sites - they have written the book.

We'll let Da Shark tell it in a blog post from today:

The section about Shark Tourism fascinates me.

Here are the numbers for our Sharks, in Fiji Dollars. One FJD is worth fifty US cents.
  • The yearly turnover of Beqa Adventure Divers is FJD 1,100,000 (of which FJD 45,000/year marine park levy), all of which gets re-invested in country. Add to that the ancillary revenues in the tourism industry (airline tickets, transfers, accommodation, meals, souvenirs, excursions etc) and assume that the ratio is 1:2 (which is very conservative!) = FJD 2,200,000, gives a total of FJD 3,300,000.

  • We work with approx 100 Sharks, meaning that every Shark contributes FJD 33,000 to the Fiji economy - not once but per year!

  • Assuming that on average, a Shark will live for 20 years (less for Whitetips, more for Bulls), then the value of one Shark on our Shark dive is FJD 660,000.

  • Our competitors work with the same Sharks. Assuming that their cash flow is similar to ours, one can double the above numbers.
Pretty darn impressive huh!

Commercial Trade Trumps the NGO's - Seal Hunt

The announcement of a new multi-million dollar trade agreement between Canada and China has set the seal conservation world ablaze.

For those of us a bit more left of center, this trade agreement is nothing new, and the main reason why many of "save the" campaigns ultimately fail.

While we're sure these fine ladies of PETA mean well, what they are doing here does not affect trade between nations. In fact all direct action seems to accomplish these days is in securing shows on Discovery Networks.

These shows are all but guaranteed to run 20-30 seasons of "saving the" with some colorful moments for audiences to watch. But at the end of the day markets are won and lost by trade agreements and even the top tier "save the" campaigns are at the whim of new trade agreements forged in desperation, or in multi-year packages.

As was the case recently in Canada.

The fact is after all the petitions, after all the sound bytes and protests, trade remains the driver.

Case in point Once the most egregious online platform for the sale and trade of shark fin, a global campaign to shut down this online trade was ultimately successful.

For exactly three months.

Today there are 5-8 online trade platforms that trade the same volume of shark fins. An eye opener for us when these sites were discovered, and a clear line of attack for conservation groups looking to effect change.

Go after the trade.

The debate about sustainable harvests with seals will go on forever, as apparently will the trade in seal meat and furs, to be recycled in China and sold back to us in the form of fur lined boots and premium dog food no doubt.

The end users of trade are the most vulnerable and usually have the most to lose. The folks on the front lines, the guys with the Hakapiks on ice flows in Canada make nice media targets but at the end of the day have the least to lose, because they are starting with little to begin with. Same goes for the shark finners in Mozambique, or the folks in Latin America coming in with tons of sharks fin on second and third rate fishing boats, selling their fins for a dollar a pound.

Change can come, and ultimately conservation groups can be successful, but the days of staged multi-million dollar media extravaganzas on television, small protests with semi naked protesters, and the endless cycle of online petitions has to end.

Trade agreements between nations trump everything and right now very few NGO's have a seat at the table when it comes to changing trade agreements.

It's a race everyone involved in "save the" campaigns can ill afford to lose.