Alibaba Ceases Trade in Shark Fins

Press release

December 21, 2008
In Honour of The Year of the Shark,
Alibaba Ends its Trade in Shark Fins

The International Year of the Shark gets off to a good start on January 1, 2009, as on-line trading giant, Alibaba, ceases its trade in shark fins.

The company has been in negotiations regarding the issue for the past year, since shark advocate Brain W. Darvell brought the problem to their attention. Urging Alibaba to cease the trade, which poses a major threat to the survival of the targeted shark species, has been one of the prime projects of The Shark Group.

As a result of the information they provided, and the numbers of organizations concerned by the company's involvement in the shark fin trade, Alibaba made the group-wide decision to disallow shark fins, and shark fin products, on any of their trading sites. They have encouraged their users to report incidences of shark fin trading, saying that perpetrators would be "suitably punished.”

The company's decision gives a strong message to others that ethical concerns prohibit the participation in the wasteful practice of shark finning, which is one of the most dangerous threats to sharks at this time.

I have been assured by the company that the intention is that all group websites will be shark fin-free on January 1st, 2009. Essentially, the decision that was made for Taobao applies to the whole of the company,” Darvell explained.

While the development brings a ray of hope for shark conservation, The Shark Group remains concerned that the trade could resurface in other forms, and that demand for shark fin soup is still high.


Online trade in shark fins accounts for a significant portion of total fins traded, with a number of suppliers claiming to be able to supply in excess of 2 tonnes per month (around 50,000 sharks).

The Shark Group was founded by Alex Buttigieg as an Internet platform from which shark advocates could tackle specific threats to sharks. From convincing Discovery Channel to promote shark conservation, to negotiating with Alibaba regarding their trade in shark fins, the group launched the Let Sharks Live Internet think tank and declared the International Year of the Shark in 2009 which has attracted support from all corners of the globe. One of its main objectives is to convince the consumers of shark fin soup that shark finning is unsustainable.

Shark Finning is the practise of taking sharks with nets or long-lining, hauling them on board, slashing off their fins and tails, and throwing the rest of the animal away to die slowly. Over 100 million sharks are slaughtered yearly to satisfy the demand for shark fin soup, and on-line trade represents only a portion. Open markets exist in many parts of Asia.


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