Featured Image Credit: Getty
By Kira Krall
It’s no secret that shark finning has catastrophic effects. Sharks are intentionally fished for their fins, then left to their watery graves at the bottom of the ocean. It’s estimated that worldwide shark populations have dropped by 99% due to mortalities associated with shark finning. On March 1st, 2017, China Southern Airlines banned shark fin cargo aboard any of its commercial or cargo planes. China Southern joins Air China, Cathay Pacific, and United Airlines, airlines in the fight to end the trade. More than 50% of airlines worldwide have banned shark fin cargo.
China Southern Airlines is based out of Guangzhou, the shark fin capital of the world. They’re sending a message to the world by disassociating the business with the exploitative shark fin industry. The VP of the Chinese airline wrote to Wild Aid, stating that the company must “shoulder its social responsibility” and “promote the sustainable development of the human community to the public.”
These large-scale decisions represent a rapid cultural shift in China, something that many claimed impossible.
The Chinese anti-finning campaign got a boost in 2013 when basketball phenomenon Yao Ming partnered with Wild Aid to release a PSA. The commercial shows Yao Ming refusing a bowl of shark fin soup, a dish that’s responsible for most of the harvested shark fins. Yao Ming simply exposed how shark fin soup was made, and soup consumption decreased by 50% since the PSA aired. Watch it below:
While China is admirably combating the shark finning industry, the United States of America has fallen behind the curve. In 2011, the U.S. exported over 92,000 pounds of shark fin (from the most recent statistics in a 2015 report to Congress). The shark conservation act of 2010 did very little to conserve sharks, and instead provided loopholes for shark finners to find and jump through with ease. Florida recently denied a bill that would have banned the collection and trade of shark fins.
There is currently a federal bill that is awaiting approval that will make the collection, transport, and trade of shark fins illegal, regardless of state laws. Hopefully we can follow China’s footsteps and conserve shark species worldwide.