Consumers Can Help Stop Shark Finning

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Washington, D.C. -- The Animal Welfare Institute has sent letters of warning to restaurants in major cities that offer shark fin soup on their menus. In addition, the organization is working to expand its campaign from Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York City, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco to the entire nation.

"The movie Jaws may have encouraged beachgoers to look for fins in the ocean, but we're encouraging consumers to look for fins before ordering food at the local Chinese restaurant," said AWI's Serda Ozbenian.  "If shark fins are on the menu, people must raise an objection and look for somewhere else to eat."

Recent estimates show that over 70 million sharks are being slaughtered for their fins annually.  Fins are typically removed while the sharks are still conscious.  Because of the high value of shark fins and the relatively low value of their meat, the bodies are discarded back into the ocean, where the animals endure slow, agonizing deaths. 

Even the fins from threatened species including the basking, porbeagle, dogfish, gulper and hammerhead sharks are being marketed. Since sharks are top predators, their decimation creates a ripple effect throughout the marine food web, impairing the balance of the ocean ecosystem.  Sharks are particularly vulnerable because they produce few young and mature late.

The restaurant blacklist and a coupon with a message in both English and Chinese requesting businesses that carry the product to "Let Sharks Keep Their Fins...Say No to Shark Fin Soup" are available on the AWI website. As consumers locate offending restaurants not yet listed, they should email the names of the establishments to nosharkfinning@awionline.org.

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Media Contact:
Serda Ozbenian, AWI, (703) 836-4300