Thursday, 29 March 2012
While speaking on shark cognition during a tour in Florida, I was called the Jane Goodall of sharks because of the close bonds I formed with the local sharks in Tahiti. Accepted into their community, I documented their intimate behavior over many years before they were finned by a company from Singapore, for the shark fin soup market.
So when Shanon Sparks, who interviewed me for her film about shark intelligence, made a video clip about my book, she entitled it "The Jane Goodall of Sharks"
Monday, 12 March 2012
The giant NGO, Oceana, recently sent out a petition to thousands of its trusting members, charging Mr. Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba.com, with "profiting from the deaths of threatened manta rays". This astonishing move immediately caught the attention of those of us who know him to be one of China's most enlightened businessmen, who refuses to support the traffic in shark fins and threatened wild animals, and who serves on the global Board of Directors of The Nature Conservancy.
The entire affair has already been brilliantly documented by Wolfgang Leander, here :
And by Mike Newmann here :
The man that Oceana has vilified is actually a highly illumined Chinese leader, and a clairvoyant businessman.
From Wikipedia :
"On November 6, 2007, at a press conference at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Hong Kong, called to discuss the highly successful Hong Kong Stock Exchange IPO, when asked whether Alibaba.com was an ethical trading company, Ma responded by announcing to the assembled journalists - and reiterating when queried - that he and his family have "sworn off Shark Fin Soup now and forever" (echoing elite basketballer Yao Ming's famous declaration, which angered Guangzhou's fin traders), which he said was a result of finding out what the problems are. In January 2009, Alibaba Group revised its listing policy and banned the sale of shark fin products on all of its e-commerce platforms."
Mr. Jack Ma has not only been widely acknowledged for his leadership and influence in China, but also in the west, where he is considered one of the "25 Most Powerful Business People in Asia" by Fortune, one of "China's Most Powerful People" by Businessweek, and one of the 30 "World's Best CEOs" by Barron's. Time magazine honoured him with inclusion into the "Time 100 list" of the world's 100 most influential people.
Yet this is the man Oceana chose to vilify, by deliberately connecting his name with the criminal racketeering in manta ray parts.
Jack Ma, and people like him who always make the moral choice, should be acknowledged and thanked, particularly in such a sensitive context as the Asian market for shark fins. He and his company, Alibaba, have become a beacon of hope to us who have had faith all along that if the Chinese people only learned the truth about shark finning, they would change the recipe for their special soup.
I, among many other shark advocates who were shocked by Oceana's ignorance and coarse behaviour, am waiting to see a humble public apology go out from Oceana to Mr. Jack Ma, in the wake of their unseemly petition.