Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Commercial Shark Fin Sales and - Update

Shark fin for sale under another name?
 In 2010, an online B2B vendor and the second largest in volume to, declared that they would stop selling shark fin online.

The move was lauded by the shark conservation community who posted the TradeKey press release and moved on.

Since that time no one has gone back to to see if they had removed shark fin from their massive B2B listings.

We did, and what we found today after a brief search was shark fin for sale (sourced 10.26.2011) including the image of a dried shark fin from sources in India, Maldives and Mexico.

These sources sell up to 10,000 kgs of shark fin at a time.

But it goes beyond these overt commercial ads on TradeKey. In fact many sellers of "dried fish products" or "fish maw" sell shark fin and TradeKey has no mechanism in place to stop potential buyers from "asking about" dried shark fin from vendors.

In fact TradeKey offers no alerts or internal guidance that we can find at all regarding shark fin, the sales of shark fin, or the trade in shark fin on their site.

As conservationists we cannot be satisfied with partial solutions to the online sales of shark fins, we have to dig deeper and adopt the mindset of the buyers. Shark fin sales are a multimillion dollar global enterprise and the trade does not just vanish because of "a promise and a press release."

It needs to be monitored.

We will say this, has pulled the vast majority of shark fin ads from their site but that does not make them partners in the war on shark fin sales, more like unwilling conservation participants.

For the dead shark featured in this weeks TradeKey B2B ad from India, that partnership has not fulfilled the promise and needs to do better.

They can start with the following:

1. Internal guidance for dried ocean product sellers listing the items that cannot be sold on the TradeKey site with a fine or banishment if they are discovered breaking the rules.

2. A "smart search program" that watches internal emails between sellers and buyers for keywords like "shark fin," and an auto email sent to both parties warning them of TradeKey policies.

3. A revocation of all monies for transactions done with shark fin.

4. A public banned list on TradeKey for companies that break TradeKey policies.

The technology and web programming to completely banish shark fin, educate millions of buyers and sellers, and become an online B2B conservation leader exists - and it's cheap.

Additionally TradeKey could consider adopting a top tier conservation partner like Oceana or PEW to develop out long lasting internal shark policies and forward thinking outreach.

TradeKey are not the bad guy here, they just associate with folks that indiscriminately kill sharks for fins. In a global climate where sharks are rapidly becoming protected and even admired, the ongoing sale and trade of shark fin on massive B2B sites is something we all need to pay attention to.

In summation TradeKey has two options, adopt a strong conservation leadership position or continue with their current and "partially effective" effort to stop the sale and trade of shark fin on their site, which as we have seen this week is not meeting up with the press release and conservation hype.