Sharks

Fins from up to 73 million sharks are used in shark fin soup each year

Background: 

An estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year with fins from up to 73 million used for shark fin soup, primarily to supply the market in Mainland China. A pair of shark fins can sell for as much as US$700 per kg in Asia. Some shark populations have declined by up to 98% in the last 15 years and nearly one third of pelagic sharks species are considered threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Our goal is to measurably reduce this consumption of shark fin in China. In 2006, when we started our shark fin campaign, knowledge of the problem in China was negligible. Surveying showed that 75% of Chinese were unaware that shark fin soup came from sharks (the dish is called “fish wing soup” in Mandarin), while 19% believed the fins grew back, and few understood the impact on shark populations. 

What is WildAid doing?: 

To measurably raise awareness and concern about the impact of the consumption of shark fin soup on shark populations and marine biodiversity, we work with media network partners in China to broadcast our Say No to Shark campaign messages via TV and other media outlets, including video boards in subway and train stations, airports, and university campuses. We have produced many high quality TV PSAs on shark fin for China with our celebrity ambassadors Yao Ming and others, including prominent Chinese CEOs. Our latest campaign features several new PSAs including sports icon David Beckham, actor and director Jiang Wen, and actress Maggie Q.

Our campaigns, in combination with government bans at official events, have contributed to a reported 50%-70% decrease in China’s shark fin consumption.

In the upcoming year we will continue our work with governments in consuming nations, increase our restaurant and hotel partnerships, recruit more ambassadors for additional media outreach, and much more.

The Impact Timeline

  • 2014-2015: Expanding campaign efforts in Southeast Asia and building public and political support for legal controls on the consumption of shark fin in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan.
  • October 2014: The Malaysian government announced a government banquet ban on shark fin.
  • August 2014: Our public service announcement, “Impress”, featuring Maggie Q was selected as a finalist in the 2014 BLUE Ocean Film Festival.
  • August 2014: Released a new report, “Evidence of Declines in Shark Fin Demand, China”, compiling public opinion and shark vendor survey results as well as trade statistics and media reports.
  • July 2014: 23 airlines and 5 hotel chains have banned shark fin
  • July 2014: Massachusetts became the 9th US state to ban the shark fin trade (joining California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oregon, and Washington).
  • 2014: Successfully merged with grass roots group Shark Savers
  • 2014: Released “Impress” our latest shark public service announcement, featuring actress Maggie Q
  • 2013: Distributed our shark public service messages throughout China and secured more than 3,250 airings across 19 channels with a pro-bono broadcast value of $11.6 million.
  • November 2013: Shark fin traders interviewed by WildAid in Guangzhou reported a 30-50% drop in price over the past two years, stating “shark fin is the same price as squid now.” Three major traders reported that they are planning to leave the shark fin business because it is no longer profitable. One reason [of three] given by them for the drop in demand and prices was environmental awareness and campaigns, with specific mention of Yao Ming, a WildAid ambassador seen in numerous PSAs and billboards. 
  • September 2013: We launched the “I’m FINished with Fins” pledge campaign in China in partnership with Sina Weibo that reached 200 million Weibo subscribers. Of those, 50 million posts were read and 340,000 users uploaded photos or signed the pledge.
  • 2013: The Hong Kong government banned shark fin soup from government functions.
  • 2013: Another of our surveys revealed that 85% of respondents in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu said they stopped eating shark fin soup in the last three years. Sixty-five percent of those said awareness campaigns were a reason why they stopped.
  • 2012: The Chinese government announced it would ban shark-fin from all state banquets within three years (China implemented the ban in 2013). This was the first response to the National People’s Congress proposal (which credited the WildAid/Yao Ming campaign) to ban shark fin trade altogether.
  • 2010: In our online poll on Sina Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter), 27,370 people voted for a ban on shark fin sales, with only 440 against, indicating broad public support.
  • 2008: Following the Beijing Olympics, an independent survey showed that 55% of people in Beijing remembered our shark campaign with 82% of those saying they would reduce or stop their consumption as a result and 89% saying shark fin should be banned.
How can you help?: 
  • First and foremost, do not buy food containing shark fin.
  • Tell your friends and relatives that they may be contributing to the irreversible decline of shark populations.
  • Always opt for environmental and sustainable alternatives and substitutes. 
  • Contact your elected officials asking them what steps they are taking to end the unregulated trade in shark fins. 
  • Sign our shark pledge, vowing to lend your voice to the 73 million sharks whose fins are used in shark fin soup every year.