Join the Shark Side

ATTENTION JEDIS! Ancient and awesome creatures from planet Earth need your help. If you live in a big city the chances are that near you people are profiteering through the brutal killing and trade of endangered species which is tipping marine ecosystems out of balance. Up-market Chinese restaurants around the world make big bucks selling endangered shark fins. This cruel and unnecessary trade is about to reach its annual peak this Chinese New Year (February 3rd 2011). It is time for us to take action.

On Thursday 03 February people from many walks of life will come together in London’s Chinatown to celebrate the arrival of the Chinese New Year, and also to show their support for local efforts to take shark fin off the menu. The global trade in shark fin is pushing these ancient and awesome creatures to the brink of extinction. Sharks are apex predators, so when they are taken out, ecosystems are pushed out of balance with devastating knock-on effects. It is estimated by scientists that 90% of the global shark population has already been wiped out. 

Sales of shark fin traditionally reach their peak at Chinese New Year. By visiting Chinatown on that day with flyers detailing the extent of the problem, with a positive message sustainability, we hope to change attitudes for the better, and persuade consumers to change their dining habits to protect our oceans.

You are invited to join this loose alliance of marine conservationgroups , environmentalists, scientists, students and other concerned citizens to make a stand for sharks. 

Whale Shark

 

What else you can do:

Beginner: draw up a list of up-market Chinese restaurants near you (use google). Ring them and ask if they serve shark fin soup. If they say yes ask to speak to the manager. Let her know that you and your friends are deeply disturbed by the damage caused by this trade and that you will never visit the restaurant until shark fin is removed from the menu.

Intermediate: same as above but visit the restaurant in person, ask to see the manager and explain the case (see below). Consider handing out some flyers to customers explaining the harm caused by global shark finning (flyers to follow: watch this space).

Hustler: ring the target restaurant. Ask if they serve shark fin, if yes, book a table for 12. Don’t turn up. Ring the following day and explain to the manager that you and your friends will keep booking tables (on random nights) and not show up until shark fin is removed from the menu. Repeat.

Join us on Chinese New Year in central London for a protest. As well as enthusiastic, marine loving participants we need photographers, film-makers, media managers, artists, street performers, flyer designers and translators. Oh, and anyone got a shark suit? Get in touch here: ecohustler@ecohustler.co.uk

Sign up: public plea to ban shark-finning in the EU: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/a-public-plea-to-ban-shark-finning-in-the-eu/

Pass it on.

Healthy Black Tip (Credit: Alex Hofford)

The shark finning crisis

Our seas were once bountiful with thriving populations of sharks. Today we have a different story. Worldwide fish stocks of all descriptions are dwindling (check out  ‘The End of the Line’ documentary. Overfishing is rife and amongst the species most in peril are sharks. Sharks are not commonly eaten for their meat, and some of responsibility for their dwindling populations results from by-catch. However, a massive cause of the problem is the burgeoning market for shark fins.

Hunted indiscriminately (Credit: Alex Hofford)

The numbers are staggering. Each year it is estimated that over 70 million sharks are caught around the world for their fins. The market for this harvest is worth over 1 billion dollars annually.

The results are catastrophic. Sharks are ‘apex predators‘. This means they sit at the top of long food chains, where they have a crucial role in maintaining the health of their ecosystems. Removing sharks has a devastating effect on marine ecosystems around the world. Predator removal causes a potentially irreversible cascade of complex knock-on effects that destabilises food-webs and the marine environment as a whole.

“More than 90% of all top marine predators have disappeared from the oceans”.—Myers et al. 2007; MacKenzie et al. 2009

“It appears that ecosystems such as Caribbean coral reefs need sharks to ensure the stability of the entire system.”–Enric Sala, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Dead sharks in a refrigerator in Micronesia (Credit: Alex Hofford)

It is not only the numbers alone that we should be crying out to stop. The industry itself is barbaric. It is common practice for sharks, once caught, to be finned and thrown back into the sea alive.

So for the health of our oceans (and therefore the whole planet) as well as for the prevention of extreme and extensive cruelty to animals we need to stop this industry in its tracks. Whilst it may be important to preserve cultural diversity and maintain the world’s many and varied traditions it is more important to conserve biodiversity and the stability of the global ecosystems that we all depend on. There has to be a line drawn somewhere, and this barbaric practice totally crosses it. So this new year, get involved and join our protest.

London Restaurants proudly serving shark’s fin
(please add in comments if you know others)

  1. Royal China Club, 40-42 Baker St, London,  W1U 7AJ,  020 7486 3898
  2. Super Star, 17 Lisle Street, London WC2H  7BE, 020 7287 3822/ 020 7437 1717
  3. Mr Kong, 21 Lisle Street, London WC2H 7BA, 020 7437 7341/ 020 7437 9679
  4. Young Cheng, 22 Lisle Street, London WC2h 7BA, 020 7287 3045
  5. Joy King Lau, 3 Leicester Street, London WC2, 020 7437 2629
  6. Golden Dragon, 28-29 Gerrard Street, London, W1D 6JW, 020 7734 2763
  7. New China, 48 Gerrard Street, London, W1D 5QL, 0207 287 9889
  8. Golden Pagoda, 15a Gerrard Street, London W1D 5PH, 020 7434 2888
  9. London Chinatown, 27 Gerrard Street, London W1D 6JN, 020 7437 3186
  10. Gerrard’s Corner, 30 Wardour Street, London W1D 6QW, 020 7287 1878
  11. Chuen Cheng Ku, 17 Wardour Street, London W1D 6Pj, 020 7437 1398
  12. London Jade Garden, 15 Wardour Street, London W1D 6PH, 020 7437 5065

Videos, links and resources

Man and Shark the film: http://www.manandshark.com/
Man and Shark the book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shark-Paul-Hilton-Alex-Hofford/dp/9881721512/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1287158388&sr=8-3

Bite Back: http://www.bite-back.com/

Shark Trust: http://www.sharktrust.org/

Global Ocean: http://www.globalocean.eu/

Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF): http://saveourseas.com/

Pangeaseed are the only shark protection NGO in Japan and they organized a protest in the Chinatown district of Yokohama: http://www.pangeaseed.com/pangea/English/Entries/2010/7/19_PangeaSeed_Shark_March.html

Freeze mob organised in Hong Kong:

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23 responses to “Join the Shark Side

  1. Although most of your readers will just move on to the current bonfire in their busy lives, perhaps one or two may just be stung into action, if only to eschew, rather than chew, fish. And if one or two of them goes further and engages in some kind of direct action, then you will have succeeded in placing another brick in the wall of Gaia’s defences against the destructive folly of her most dangerous and suicidal predator. Keep on keeping on, Ecohustler!

  2. Well done Matt.

    I’ve been putting the word out about your planned London shark fin protest on 3rd February.

    Keep up the good fight…

    Alex

  3. Thanks Alex!

    Getting a good response. The 3rd should be cool!

    M

  4. Hey Alex,

    Have you (or anyone else) got any flyers we can hand out on the day?

    Thanks,

    M

  5. You could print off these pdf’s from the HKSF website, do double sided English and Chinese…

    Not sure if you can modify them though. If you need to, just let me know and I can get the editable versions to you.

    http://www.hksharkfoundation.org/resources.php

    click on

    HKSF Factsheet
    HKSF Factsheet (chinese Version)

    good luck!

  6. def up for some shark inspired restaurant disruption. see you on the 3rd.

  7. Great stuff Rich!

    we need a Darth Veda costume (in case you have one). we are going to do a circuit of China Town inviting people to join the Shark Side and drop in on certain carefully selected restaurants…

    • I’ve started emailing places listed as serving sharkfin, or supplying it. I had the following reply from Wing Yip:

      Good afternoon
      Many thanks for your recent e-mail.
      After consultation I can confirm that we do not sell Shark Fin’s in any of our stores.
      Kind regards
      Karen Tarpey

      Has anyone else contacted them, or visited their stores to confirm this?
      Keep ut the good work!
      Cheers,
      Martin

  8. You should be aware most restaurants in UK don’t actually serve shark fin in their ‘shark fin’ soup. Mostly just tastes like shark fin. You should check before you start disrupting someones business

  9. Thanks Tim,

    These are good points so to be clear:

    1.We will double check all restaurants listed above (with shark fin on the menu) actually are serving shark fin
    2.The plan isn’t to disrupt business but to peacefully and amicably demonstrate our opposition to the trade of endangered species. We will do this outside the restaurants and by delivering flyers explaining why we have a problem with it.
    Cheers,
    M

  10. Hi Martin,

    This is brilliant! thanks for getting involved! will we see you on the third?

    Matt

  11. Let me know if you have any plans to come up north to Liverpool as I would protest there, thanks.

  12. Janine Claassen

    Everyone can help…
    Every person can help make a difference…

  13. Lets get shark finning banned. Protest in NYC?

  14. hi what time will the protest start in London Thursday the 3rd… i finish work at 5. but i really want to join in with u guys and girls………. its time to act…….

  15. Pingback: Open Letter to the Costa Rican Ambassador on Shark Finning | EcoHustler

  16. I cant believe they would do this to such beautiful and innosent creatures!!!

  17. I just cant beleive that they would do such a horrible and disgraceful thing to a beautiful and lovely animal!

  18. Hey EcoHustler,

    A bit of debate: I shy away from tackling other cultures on their unsustainable actions. I understand that in many respects, the decreasing shark population represents a serious and potentially imminent threat. But I’ve been guilty of fueling the meat industry and predominantly the factory farming industry through my meat consumption up to last year. I drove a car up to 4 years ago. And some of the clothing I buy is still made in sweatshops by little kids. So I find it very hard to take on something like shark fin soup when so much of what is happening in my own culture and indeed in my own sphere of influence (through the grid provided electricity in my house, the way my water pipes are set up, and the way the tasty beverages I like to buy are packaged) has negative effects and knock-on consequences. I always think it’s best to clean up the backyard before treading further afield.

    That being said, I make an effort in my own life to reduce my impact as much as I can in a society where impact is dictated to a large extent by the broader systems that are already in place. I also try to change those systems through my professional work. I mean, the average Chinese person has an eco-footprint equivalent to 1.2 planets and my Australian-American impact is closer to 5 on average (though personally 1.8 according to a footprint calculator). So plenty for me to focus on internally before setting my sights on the old shark fin soup.

    But I do appreciate the message you are sending out and what you are trying to do with the campaign.

  19. Hi Joe,

    I understand and respect you position. We should all work on our own impacts!

    However, I do think that never daring to speak out when there is wrong being done for fear we are being culturally insensitive will mean that we will lose many species.

    The guerrillas are going under in Uganda, the rainforest is being cut down in Brazil and the orang-utan in Indonesia. If we just focus on our own cultures we can kiss good bye to them.

    We are one planet and frankly national boundaries don’t interest me much. It is up to us to act now.

    • Appreciated and acknowledged. However, rainforest is being cut down to raise cheap cattle for the West’s insatiable hunger for beef. I haven’t actually seen the episode, but heard about a South Park where people were protesting Japan for eating whales and dolphins and at the end of the episode Americans showed them the ‘light’ and the Japanese were all raising cattle for beef.

      I don’t eat meat, but it’s a pretty unpopular position to take to say ‘Be vegetarian or vegan or life on Earth will cease to exist.’ So even progressive organisations simply say ‘Eat less meat’. In a world with 9 billion or 12 billion people, eating less meat (and indeed everything) won’t save the planet. But we also don’t see prominent organisations protesting procreation.

      It’s a tough one, man. I’m all for lessening the impact on the poor in developing nations in the interim, because I see the Earth shrugging us off like a bad flu (along with the rest of the creatures) and starting anew. And that may not be such a bad thing.

      At the end of the day, we all have a sphere of influence. I believe the best way we can make an impact is through living as an example (being the change we want to see), rather than crying out against others actions when we know we’re imperfect ourselves.

      Best,
      Joe

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