Tag Archives: Over-fishing

We joined the Shark Side!

Team Shark 3/2/2011 China Town

When the photographer Alex Hofford first contacted EcoHustler and asked if we would write about shark finning drawing on the images and video from his Man and Shark project we had no idea where it would all lead. I certainly didn’t think we would end up organizing an event in China Town on Chinese New Year! I am not sure how it happened but after a great day raising awareness about sharks I am very glad Alex got in touch and that we all decided to go a step further and take action! Massive thanks to everyone who came down and joined the Shark Side and big props to Global Ocean who are collecting signatures for their important petition.

Shark Ambassadors out on the streets

Initially the idea of making a stand in China Town went down like a proposal for a pay toilet in a diarrhoea ward. Several UK shark organizations we contacted actually told us not to do it. Apparently we were being politically incorrect and culturally insensitive. The trouble is, eating shark fin is a cultural phenomenon so you have two choices: be politically correct and look the other way or strap a pair on and have a conversation with the people who like to eat it. 90% of all the sharks that were in the oceans have been removed… so we decided it was a conversation worth having.

We advertised the direct action publicly on this site. After the Mark Kennedy scandal I joked with friends that the first few emails I received from people wanting to join in would be policemen. It wasn’t a massive surprise therefore when I got to the allocated meeting place to be immediately jumped upon by two undercover police officers. Initially they were confrontational and almost threatening. Pretty soon they seemed to realize that we didn’t want to cause trouble and they became polite and asked us to move up the road which we did. Unfortunately it wasn’t until a bit later that I realized the police offers were skillfully keeping us away from the Chinese Ambassador and all the press. When we walked back up to the throng I was grabbed and actually read my rights. I am fairly sure that I wasn’t breaking any laws but apparently you need a permit to speak your mind in public… or something.

Once the ambassador had gone we fanned out and handed out hundreds of flyers. These are available for download here: 110201_GO_Leaflet_A5_02. We also have hard copies available. If you would like to use some drop us an email and we can post you a good stash.

Definitely the hottest shark in China Town!

Although we missed the photographers we did interviews with LBC radio and BBC London. We had a great reception in China Town. People were not offended or angry that we were there, they seemed genuinely concerned about the plight of sharks and keen to find out more. Generally, most people have no idea how endangered sharks are and how serious this is for marine ecology. We had an interesting conversation with a restauranteur who was clearly concerned about the bad PR his place might get still serving sharks fin.

In the pub afterwards we were all very happy to have made the effort and to have taken a stand for sharks. The main thing we learnt is how easy it was for a relatively small number of us to have a big impact. We will certainly be taking further action possibly against specific restaurants. For example, the Royal China chain probably sells the most endangered shark parts in London and their restaurants are not in China Town. (On their website they say they don’t sell shark fin but I have checked in the restaurants and they definitely still do).

Although it is important to rally around iconic species that are in danger such as sharks, rhinos, tigers, whales etc it is clearly also very important to respond to the socio-economic forces driving their demise. Most large, marine animals killed by humans will be caught by large-scale, corporate fishing operations which are currently totally unsustainable. We have to keep the pressure on governments to regulate this industry effectively to allow marine ecosystems to recover. This is especially important now with the up and coming review of the Common Fisheries Policy. Our work is just beginning!

The Shark Side on other sites:
http://unemployedmarinebiologist.blogspot.com/
http://www.demotix.com/news/579154/ecohustler-shark-fin-demonstration-chinatown

More photos

Discussing the issues

Chinese Radio keeps track of events as they unfold

Signing for the Sharkies

Shark

Relaxing afterwards with a well earned drink

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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: