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August 19, 2011

HSI and the Jane Goodall Institute China Join to Protect Sharks

Humane Society International

  • "Love sharks" messages left by zoo visitors. Iris Ho/HSI

  • Notes expressing caring and concern for sharks. Iris Ho/HSI

  • Press conference attendees and passersby pledged to avoid consuming shark fins. Iris Ho/HSI

  • Publicity for the photo exhibit. Iris Ho/HSI

BEIJING—Humane Society International and the Jane Goodall Institute China's Roots & Shoots Beijing program have teamed up with the Beijing Zoo to promote shark protection with a photo exhibit that showcases these magnificent creatures.

A wide range of Chinese animal welfare and conservation groups, media professionals, businesses and students joined HSI and JGI China representatives at a press conference held at the Zoo to launch the exhibit and to enlist public support for shark protection.

The exhibit, entitled "The Price Behind the Taste—Protect Sharks, Don't Eat Shark Fins," consists of captivating images of sharks swimming in the ocean followed by dramatic photos of fins being cut off of live sharks to make shark fin soup. The unmistakable message is that the human appetite for shark fins has devastating consequences for sharks.

"Humane Society International is pleased to partner with the Jane Goodall Institute China and its extensive grassroots network consisting of hundreds of Roots & Shoots groups across the country," said Iris Ho, HSI's wildlife campaigns manager. "As the world's largest market for shark fins, China plays a crucial role in the survival of shark species at risk of extinction. Support for shark protection in China is urgently needed—and this exhibit along with our other activities with JGI-China is a first yet significant step to build that support."

"Vital to healthy oceans, sharks are being overfished and their fins severed for trade," added Lei Chen Wong, JGI China's executive director. "This joint campaign will help raise crucial awareness in China about the importance of protecting sharks, and attempt to promote changes in attitude and behavior about the commercial trade and widespread consumption of shark fins. We hope to inform and empower the Chinese public to be an active participant in the global campaign to protect sharks."

The exhibit is part of "No Shark Fin," a year-long joint educational campaign by HSI and the JGI China to raise awareness of and support for sharks in the world's most populous country. The campaign targets Chinese youth, particularly university students, to expand their knowledge of marine biodiversity and the need for shark conservation, and to discourage shark fin consumption. The exhibit runs through September 19.

Facts:

  • The fins from as many as 73 million sharks are used to feed the demand for shark fin soup each year. China is the largest market for shark fins, a key ingredient in shark fin soup.
  • Shark fins are sometimes harvested through "shark finning." It involves cutting off the fins of sharks then throwing the shark back into the ocean, often while still alive, only to drown, starve or die a slow death due to predation from other animals. Tens of millions of sharks die this way each year. Some species of shark are on the brink of extinction due to the cruel and exploitative shark fin industry.
  • Sharks are apex predators whose survival affects all other marine species and entire ocean ecosystems. The practice of shark finning is global and has led to a severe decline in shark populations.
  • Unlike other fish species, sharks produce very few young and mature slowly and consequently, overexploited populations can take years or even decades to recover.
  • Several workshops on the plight of these apex predators and the importance of saving them were held for Roots & Shoots student groups earlier this year. Participating student groups will create projects to recruit people to take pledges to avoid shark fin products and spread consumer awareness among their peers and in their communities. Roots & Shoots also takes this shark protection message online, utilizing their website and social media networks to garner support for the No Shark Fin pledge.
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    Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations—backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—On the Web at hsi.org.

    The Jane Goodall Institute was founded by Dr. Jane Goodall to empower individuals to take informed, compassionate action. In 121 countries, the Jane Goodall Institute reaches out to young people, from kindergarten to university-level, through the Roots & Shoots Environmental Education Program. Roots & Shoots focuses on making positive change happen-for our communities, for animals and for the environment. There are 600 Roots & Shoots student groups in China alone. Visit Roots & Shoots Beijing's website at http://www.genyuya.org.cn

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