Humane Society International and the Jane Goodall Institute China’s Roots and Shoots Beijing Program awarded six Chinese student groups USD $150 to USD $300 for designing and implementing outreach events to mobilize their communities to eschew shark fins. The awards are part of a student public awareness campaign started by HSI and the Jane Goodall Institute China in 2011 to raise support for shark conservation in China. This year, 41 university student groups from 15 cities submitted proposals after attending workshops on shark and ocean protection co-hosted by HSI and JGI China.
“We are encouraged by the tripling of student entries from last year. We also took note of the expansion of student projects in universities from coastal cities to inland provinces, indicating that awareness and support for sharks is spreading in the country. Young people and the general public recognize that anyone can help save sharks by avoiding shark fins,” said Lei Chen Wong, executive director of The Jane Goodall Institute China.
The awareness campaign also organized shark photo exhibits at the popular Beijing seafood restaurant chain Jindingxuan’s 13 Beijing locations to educate diners about the devastating impact shark fin consumption poses on sharks and the oceans. Jingdingxuan’s management attended HSI’s shark education workshop. Additionally, the campaign collected more than 30,000 No Shark Fin pledges throughout the year.
Accounting for 90 percent of the global demand for shark fins, China plays an essential role in the global campaign to save sharks. Over the past few years a series of developments shows that the Chinese government and public are cognizant of the shark’s dire situation and have taken steps to address the country’s shark fin consumption. In July, China’s State Council issued a directive to phase out shark fins from official functions within three years. Several high-profile hotels and restaurants, such as the Peninsula Hotel Group, have removed shark fins from their menus.
“China has identified a lack of public awareness and education about biodiversity conservation as problems that need to be addressed,” said Iris Ho, HSI’s wildlife campaigns manager. “Humane Society International and Jane Goodall Institute China’s campaign on sharks fills that crucial void in building grassroots support for shark and ocean protection. Our campaign has and will continue to engender a growing number of concerned Chinese advocates, an important constituency in the global effort to save sharks.”
- HSI and JGI China’s joint shark education campaign will continue in 2013 for a third year. In 2011, 14 student groups from four cities participated in the project. This year, 41 student groups from 15 cities joined.
- After the student groups submitted their public awareness proposals they spent the rest of the year carrying out events and activities, educating their communities about the inhumane practice of shark finning and the unsustainable shark fin trade. Six groups were selected for the final award based on their creativity, effectiveness and comprehensiveness of the project.
- The six student groups are located in Shenzhen in Guangdong province, Beijing, Nanjing in Jiangsu province, Chengdu in Sichuan province, Baicheng in Jilin province and Changsha in Hunan province. These cities’ locations, in southeastern, southwestern, eastern coastal and northeastern China, are emblematic of the effort that has spread across the country.
- Highlights from 2011 activities include one group of students in Chengdu, a major city in Western China, who held a tabling event outside a Wal-Mart after receiving support from the retailer. One group got 25 restaurants to sign the No Shark Fin Pledge. Photos and videos of students’ activities are available upon request.
- In addition to JGI China, HSI has ongoing shark protection campaigns with other local organizations on policy advocacy and public education. HSI is a planning committee member of the environmental group Green Beagle’s “No Shark Fin China Initiative.”
- HSI is part of the coalition that includes Green Beagle, The Nature Conservancy, China Hotel Association, and China Entrepreneur Club that urges hotels and restaurants to remove shark fins from their establishment. The coalition awards plaques to restaurants that pledge to be shark-fin free.