Monday, October 25, 2010

An "American Shark Fin" in San Franciso

Originally posted June 2, 2010.

Reality is a funny thing. For example, today I was in a meeting on Clement Ave in San Francisco talking about my favorite subject sharks, and the shark fin trade.

The proposed solutions being bandied about ran the gamut, much of it the same old campaigning rhetoric that's been at the forefront of the anti-shark fin movement for a few years now.

We also discussed the achievements in Hawaii recently, a rare and invigoration success in regional anti-shark fin legislation.

Strolling out of the meeting and walking into a shark fin store just across the street, I was struck by the global trade itself, and how we are not addressing shark fin trade cohesively from the trade side.

The reality of the moment.

If you understand that statement then you understand the need for a radical change in our approach to the global shark fin trade.

If you think we as shark conservationist are addressing the global trade side of shark fins, then continue to drink the cool-aid my friend - and add another petition to the fire.

Reality Number One

Non-Asians, no matter how talented, important, or media savvy can't dictate what Asians may or may not consume.

Reality Number

You cannot frighten your conservation opponent into stopping lawful or illegal trade.

Reality Number Three

The global shark fin trade is like a water balloon, if you squeeze one side it balloons out.

Reality Number Four

Money drives conservation. Without long term conservation funding the effort is not sustainable.

Reality Number Five

Conservation groups spend far too much time searching for money to be effective.

Reality Number Six

Direct action serves only to harden your opposition and drive trade underground.

The global shark fin trade encompasses every coastal nation on the planet, including the USA. It is estimated to be a 500-1 billion dollar industry. It is vertically integrated with well established trade routes. It has politicians, hundreds of thousands of poor people, and even enforcement officials working for it.

Can it be stopped?

That's the million dollar question and all questions begin with a quick reality check.

I am very keen to see the conservation side tap into the unlimited budgets they need to effect conservation change. I am also very keen to support out of the box ideas tackling the global shark fin trade. How about we look at the trade under the global lens and develop unified strategies that work?

Money, enforcement, and strategy will effect conservation change.

Reality Number Seven

Without each side in play, the whole will fail, and that's the final reality of today's reality check.

Patric Douglas CEO

The 4 Lies of Shark Fin Soup - Chuck Thompson

If Chuck Thompson was prize fighter - he would be in the bare knuckles class. As we have been quietly pointing out the shark conservation movement is in trouble when it comes to the plethora of non NGO's who are tackling this global problem.

Not for a lack of deeply held convictions, desire for eco-stardom, media hits, or even petitions.

The movement has plenty of those.

In a recent expose in Guy Harvey Magazine Chuck looks into the shark world, interviewing "the usual volunteer bleeding hearts," to garner non-scientific quotes on the "state of the union" of shark conservation.

In the process the article reveals deep insights into the efforts to date and the Four Lies of Shark Fin Soup.

To that we would like to add a 5th.

The myth that the shark fin trade is run exclusively by Asian mafia. It is not. That misconception has lead many to believe this lawful trade is something sinister, instead of something that can be taken apart by attacking the trade itself.

What's needed is new thinking and a change in tactics because this is eco issue ultimately about trade, not sound bytes, Asians, a soup, or even failed reality television show bids on Animal Planet.

Kudos to Chuck Thompson for the article and the expose. If the movement is serious about saving sharks - it will have to get serious about what it is up against first.

For a deeper look Da Shark in Fiji has posted his four cents.

Making sense - as usual.