Hawaii as a Model for future Shark Fin Legislation

Posted on June 13, 2010
Written by: Shark Savers

At a meeting held at the Long Beach Scuba Show last month, Shark Savers joined with Senator Clayton Hee, the Hawaii Senator who introduced SB 2169; Stefanie Brendl, who worked tirelessly to garner support to ensure the bill's passage; Marine Artist and conservationist, Wyland; legendary film maker and Shark Savers Board member Stan Waterman; and several other conservation groups. The purpose of the meeting was to celebrate the success of the Hawaii bill and discuss plans and ideas for pursuing similar legislation in the US and other parts of the world. Sea Stewards, Dorsal Friends and Iemanya Oceanica have been working on local shark fin bills in San Francisco and Los Angeles County, and their efforts now have the support a strong coalition.   The full list of organizations participating in the conference, includes:

California Diving News, Dorsal Friends, Sea Stewards, Dorsal Friends, 
Iemanya Oceanica, Shark Allies, Shark Free Santa Barbara, Shark Safe Network, Shark Savers, Sea Stewards, and the Wyland Foundation.

Say No to Shark Fin Soup Campaign

In support of these legislative plans, Shark Savers is in the process of launching the "Say 'No' to shark fin soup" educational campaign in North American cities with the largest shark fin consuming communities -- San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver and Toronto.   Plans are also underway to spread the campaign to the key shark fin consuming cities in Asia, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei and Kuala Lumpur. 

Meanwhile we are also working to broaden the scope of the campaign in mainland China and develop grass roots support networks to support and reinforce the message from the media campaign that is already underway in the key cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. See the update on the China billboard campaign, here and the previous update, here.

Support from within Chinese communities will be vital to the success of legislative campaigns.  In Hawaii, Vicky Cayetano, the former Hawaiian First Lady, was a strong and outspoken proponent of the Hawaii bill.  She is Chinese, and was crucial in getting the Chinese community there to accept the legislation and one of the main reasons for its success. It is her contention that shark fin soup is not an integral part of the Chinese culture, but has become an unnecessary symbol of status.

Rolling out the Say No to Shark Fin Soup campaign to all these cities is an enormous undertaking and will happen over time.  There is a great deal of interest and support for the Say No to Shark Fin Soup movement. 

For example in Hong Kong, there's quite a bit happening lately and the passing of the Hawaii bill has been very inspiring for the shark advocates, there.  In addition to some longstanding NGOs and some newer groups, there are a number of Hong Kong-based Chinese 'no shark fin' groups that have sprung up on Facebook.  Some of them have over 15,000 members already.  There is also an organization called Green Sense, which has been signing up schools to take a no shark fin pledge. They've signed up 180 schools in only three weeks. This is all among people who have discovered why shark fin soup should not be eaten and have come to care about the plight of sharks.

Shark Savers joined with many of these shark fin soup pioneers this past week in Hong Kong because we are producing a film on shark fin soup and those people who have stopped eating it. We interviewed many on film. During this week, we also participated in Rob Stewart's launch events for Sharkwater in Hong Kong.

And in Singapore, Alvin Chua and Benjamin Bartley held a very successful Say No to Shark Fin Soup event at the popular Charly T's restaurant. 

We've already established relationships and have recruited volunteers from most of these cities.   But more help is needed, primarily from people who are within the Chinese communities.  If you live in one of these cities and have the time and interest to get involved with this campaign, we would love to talk with you. Please contact us.

Reducing demand for shark fin soup is is the key to saving sharks. Getting communities on board, especially Chinese communities, to support legislation will take time, but is important to put an end to the demand for the soup while we still have sharks to save.