No Shark Fin Project
The No Shark Fin project is a large scale joint venture between the Roots & Shoots Beijing office and Humane Society International. The project has been a huge success since it started in 2011, attracting over 5,000 university student participants and 120,000 members of the public to pledge their support.
The No Shark Fin project aims to raise awareness of the importance of protecting sharks and saying “NO” to eating shark fin. The project is designed to increase public awareness of the ethical issues around eating shark fins and the threat that the custom presents to our fragile ocean ecosystem. It also aims to spread awareness of the cruel treatment that sharks endure during the shark finning process. The No Shark Fin project encourages university students from around China to educate the public, and gather pledge signatures from individuals and businesses through Roots & Shoots supported programs, activities, and internet media channels.
Roots & Shoots' ultimate goal is to change long term cultural behaviours and attitudes, by turning a wealth status symbol into a taboo one. By changing the underlying beliefs of future consumers, we can stop shark fin soup from being a staple in Cantonese-style Chinese restaurants. Sharks will be able to remain as one of the ocean's most noble and admired creatures for centuries to come.
Why is it important to protect sharks?
The Value of Sharks
Sharks are at the top of the food chain and play a key role in maintaining the stability of ocean ecosystems. Without them the balance of organisms further down the food chain would change, for instance without sharks restricting their numbers stingrays would multiple and severely deplete the bay scallop population. And without tiger sharks, tuna and jackfish juveniles would be wiped out by seabirds. The collapse of tuna populations would also have an impact on commercial fishing activities.
Sharks are also a valuable economic contributor through ecotourism, for instance scuba divers and snorkelers are keen to observe sharks in their natural habitats. In comparison to dead sharks, live sharks can continue to contribute to the economic development of local communities reliant on tourism income. A 2010 study concluded that a live shark could contribute up to $179,000 through tourism whereas a shark fin fetches a price of $190.
Current Endangered status of Sharks
Scientists estimate that a minimum of 100 million sharks are slaughtered per year. From a biological conservation perspective, this number is far too high to maintain stability of the wild shark population. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists 1045 species of sharks, out of which 315 species are listed as "threatened" or "near threatened". Threatened species include the whale shark, the great white shark, and the tiger shark. Near threatened species include the blue shark, silky shark, and manta rays.
Commercial shark hunting is now on a global scale, fuelled by the trade in shark products: shark fins, shark meat, cartilage, liver oil and skin. Apart from this, sharks are also killed by accidental capture e.g. being ensnared in fishing nets. The price of shark fin has risen with economic development, and this rising price along with cultural traditions are the main drivers of commercial shark fishing.
It may seem unbelievable that there are problems which these powerful predators can't solve on their own, but sharks can't swim backwards and consequently struggle when trapped in nets.
Sharks don't have a swim bladder and instead, are more reliant on the oil in their livers. Sharks are more dense than water, therefore they will sink if they stop swimming.
Although shark attacks on humans are tragic, please remember that human beings are not their staple diet. Sharks usually feed on other marine organisms, their body mass requires a lot of sustenance which human bodies are unable to provide. Shark attacks are the result of sharks mistaking humans on the water surface for their regular prey e.g. surfers for seals.
Shark related regulations
Plenty of countries already have laws in place to protect sharks e.g. USA, Costa Rica, South Africa, Oman, Colombia and members of the EU. In these countries, shark finning and killing sharks is illegal. There are also international agreements which ban shark finning, however they often have legal loopholes and there is a lack of reinforcement.
How to Participate
Take action immediately! Everyone can participate in the No Shark Fin project. Sign the online pledge to refuse to eat shark fin soup. After pledging online, you can opt to receive the latest information about the program via email.
University Student Teams:
Want to win prizes and network with international animal protection organizations? Then come and join our innovative project competition. All undergraduate and graduate students in China have the opportunity to form a team and compete. The winning teams will win grants from Humane Society International to further develop their campaigns and reach more people. Every team that enters will also receive special gifts for participating!
Make a true commitment to refuse to sell shark fin products and protect ecological diversity, and stand out as an ethical business. Contact us for relevant information and posters to help you better promote the cause and educate your customers about the shark fin business. Committed restaurant names are published on our website to commend your extraordinary contributions to the conservation of sharks!
Corporations can help spread the "No Shark Fin" message in several ways – the easiest is taking the pledge today! Add your voice to the thousands who have already said "NO" to shark fin. Secondly, R&S can work with you to design employee awareness campaigns, educational photo exhibitions and pledge drives that inspire and motivate your employees to take action in support of our environment.
If you wish to learn more about the campaign, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org