A citywide “Bye Bye Shark Fins! Cycling for Sharks” event in the heart of Beijing raised public awareness and support for sharks, whose numbers are declining worldwide due to the cruel shark finning trade. The event, hosted by Humane Society International and the Roots & Shoots Beijing Office of the Jane Goodall Institute China, took place on Aug. 8, which in Chinese sounds phonetically similar to the English phrase “bye bye.”
A dozen cyclists in shark costumes biked through China’s capital and stopped at several restaurants across Beijing belonging to a popular chain to interact with dining guests and passersby and aim to recruit 10,000 “No Shark Fin” pledges. Cyclists ended their trip at a popular shopping area in Beijing and were joined by celebrities, where they urged members of the public not to consume shark fins.
Chinese Actor Huang Haibo attended the event and appealed to the public to end cruel shark finning by stating: “Refusing shark fins is a small and easy gesture for any of us, but is a huge boost for the oceans’ ecosystem.” Chinese actress and singer Yang Mi voiced support for the No Shark Fin campaign through a pre-taped video message. With more than 20 million followers on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, Yang asked Chinese social media users to join her in taking the pledge.
Jindingxuan, a popular Cantonese restaurant chain in Beijing and one of the first culinary establishments to remove shark fins from its menu, has been supporting HSI and JGI China’s joint No Shark Fin campaign for the past two years. Employees of Jindingxuan joined the cycling team. Creative and interactive activities, such as body art of sharks and skits about sharks being captured for their fins, held at three Jindingxuan locations, educated consumers about shark and ocean protection.
Lei Chen Wong, executive director of JGI China, said: “We are encouraged by the growing support for sharks in China in our third year of the No Shark Fin campaign with Humane Society International. We are excited that famous Chinese celebrities Yang Mi and Huang Haibo are willing to support our ‘Bye Bye Shark Fin Day’ in rallying more people to stop consuming shark fin soup. With their support, we are able to reach a much larger audience and raise greater awareness of the plight of sharks.”
Iris Ho, wildlife program manager of HSI, said: “Last summer, China’s highest decision-making body, the State Council, announced it would issue regulations to phase out the consumption of shark fins from official functions. Since then, the momentum to shun shark fins continues to grow in China. It is time to bid ‘bye bye,’ once and for all, to shark fins, for they are now a symbol of animal cruelty and environmental unsustainability.”
- HSI and JGI China’s joint shark education campaign is in its third year. In 2011, 10 student groups from four provinces participated in the project. In 2012, 28 student groups from 15 provinces joined.
- In addition to JGI China, HSI has ongoing shark protection campaigns with other local organizations on policy advocacy and public education. HSI collaborates with and advises “No Shark Fin China Initiative” of the Beijing-based environmental organization, The Nature University. The initiative focuses on community engagement, through online and offline outreach activities, to raise public awareness and support and advocates that municipalities and local governments not serve shark fins at official functions.
- HSI is also part of a coalition that includes The Nature University, The Nature Conservancy, the China Hotel Association, and the China Entrepreneur Club that urges hotels and restaurants to remove shark fins from their establishment menus. The coalition awards plaques to restaurants that pledge to be shark-fin free.
Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. For more than 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—on the Web at hsi.org.
The Jane Goodall Institute was founded by Dr. Jane Goodall to empower individuals to take informed, compassionate action. In 121 countries, the Jane Goodall Institute reaches out to young people, from kindergarten to university-level, through the Roots & Shoots Environmental Education Program. Roots & Shoots focuses on making positive change happen-for our communities, for animals and for the environment. There are 600 Roots & Shoots student groups in China alone. Visit Roots & Shoots Beijing’s website at http://www.genyuya.org.cn