Sunday, 21 December 2008

Online Traders Drop the Fins.

Members of international conservationists "The Shark Group" are breathing a sigh of relief after online trading giant promised to end its controversial online trade in shark fins., a subsidiary of has received close attention from various conservation groups worldwide, who have been highly critical of their online trade in shark fin products facilitated by alibaba company policy to facilitate free trade, even in endangered species.
The issue had been complicated by a lack of control in international trade in shark products, and the near impossible task of identifying protected and non protected species. Some shark species are protected by international trade laws, and some are not. Identification of different shark species is nearly impossible once the fins have been removed from the bodies.
This week, Alibaba, china's biggest online marketplace, bowed to pressure and announced that the decision by taobao was a company-wide initiative, and that it encouraged its users to report any incidences of shark fin trade, saying that perpetrators would be "suitably punished". The announcement follows a move to ban all trade in endangered species on the group's websites in an attempt to paint a more ethical company face.
A tireless campaign was mounted by members of The Shark Group to pressurise Alibaba to ban the sale of shark fin products by its member traders. Online trade in shark fins accounts for a significant portion of total fins traded, with a number of suppliers claiming to be able to supply in excess of 2 tonnes per month (around 50,000 sharks).
Although this is a red letter day in the conservation movement's diary, there is still a long way to go. In excess of 100 million sharks are slaughtered every year to satisfy demand for shark fin soup, and online trade represents only a portion of that trade. Open markets exist in many parts of Asia, and The Shark Group was quick to point out that the trade could resurface in other forms, and that demand for shark fin soup remained high.
The shark group was formed in 2007 by Alex "Sharkman" Buttigieg and Ila France Porcher and has quickly gained momentum as a premium force in shark conservation. They have initiated 2009 as International Year of the Shark which has attracted support from all corners of the globe, and this event marks a good start to the year.

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