Jackie Chan Speaks Out to Save Sharks from Finning
Jackie Chan, a globally recognized performer and China’s most famous actor, grew up believing that shark fin soup had vitalizing power, but now he refuses to eat this traditional delicacy. In this recent interview, Mr. Chan describes the urgent need for humans to protect sharks and other endangered wildlife from extinction, and his choice to stop eating shark fin soup.
It is only by ending the demand for shark fins that the cruel and wasteful practice of finning – slicing sharks’ fins off their bodies and throwing the shark back into the ocean to die – will stop. With the support of celebrities like Jackie Chan and Yao Ming, ally groups like Wild Aid and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, NRDC has helped to pass laws in states like California, New York, and Illinois to ban the sale, trade and possession of shark fins. As my colleague Seth Atkinson described in his blog, we are still working hard to uphold those laws.
Although we have tough laws on the books in California, there is still an illegal trade in shark fins, and finning continues in many places. Recently, my dog’s nose found a small shark dead on a Northern California beach. All of its fins had been sliced off, and the rest of its body was left to rot. Without its fins, it was difficult to tell what type of shark it was, but my best guess, based on this California Department of Fish and Wildlife guide is that it was a grey smoothound shark. Any ichthyologists out there who can hazard a guess?
Photo credit: Simon Dunne, “Mr. Fox finds a finned shark at Sea Ranch.”
With approximately 100 million sharks killed for their fins every year, we need immediate action to end the shark fin trade. Only when the market demand for fins dries up will the trade stop. In 2013, we received good news from China and Hong Kong – the source of greatest global demand for shark fins – and it is clear that public and official views on shark fin soup are changing. As the New York Times reported, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for an end to shark fin soup being served at official dinners, and then Hong Kong banned serving of shark fins at official functions. Now, Mr. Chan is amplifying the message that “no way” will he eat shark fin soup, and others shouldn’t, either.
Sharks have swum the world’s seas for more than 400 million years, and finning poses a very real threat to their survival. Thanks to respected anti-finning activists like Jackie Chan, sharks may still have a fighting chance to keep on swimming.
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