I've told you guys before about the horrors of killing sharks for their fins. The fins are used to make shark fin soup which sells for almost $100 a bowl and is an asian delicacy. Almost 100 million sharks are killed each year becuase of demand for this soup and as a result, many shark species are now threatened with extinction. The demand for this soup is on the rise and a well known sports superstar has stepped in to put a stop to the killing.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the practice of shark finning, it works like this: sharks are pulled from the water, their fins are sliced off and the sharks are then thrown back into the water to die a slow death. Isn't that one of the cruelest things you've ever heard? Sharks are very long lived species and killing them in their prime means populations cannot be sustained. Sharks are also apex predators, which means they are at the top of the food chain and the entire food chain depends on them. They are also keystone species, which means that their presence contributes to the diversity of the life in their ecosystem and their absence (extinction) would lead to the extinction of other animal species. The bottom line is we need sharks. They keep everything in the oceans in balance. Without them, ocean ecosystems collapse.
Yao Ming, a basketball player for the Houston Rockets, is from China and is using his celebrity to influence the citizens of China into giving up their taste for shark fin soup. Last year he got involved with the conservation group WildAid, which is partnering with the group Shark Savers, to get the message out about the horrors of shark fin soup. The "Buy a Billboard" campaign is a year old and the results so have have been great.
For $100, anyone can purchase a bus stop billboard featuring Yao Ming urging people to say no to shark fin soup. Each billboard is in place for one year and the message is proving very effective. According to the sharksaver.org website, WildAid had billboards in Beijing for 3 months last year and a survey showed that 19% of Beijiners remember seeing the billboards and 82% of those people said they would stop or reduce their consumption of shark fin soup. Hooray! There's hope for sharks!
WildAid is also running the following commercial on stations throughout China. Yao is very determined to educate the public about shark fin soup as is evident when he told reporters "We have a species that need our attention and protection. They are endangered by excessive hunting by humans and deprived of habitats due to human greed." You tell 'em Yao!
I'm hoping other celebrities will get involved with the campaign and do PSA's or put their faces on billboards. Yao is big in China but so are lots of other celebrities. And what about putting some billboards here in the U.S.? There's a very large (and growing) asian population in the states and shark fin soup is sold in most major cities. How about putting a billboard in Times Square? Or maybe on the Las Vegas Strip? We need to get the message out and do it quick. Time is ticking.
If you would like to buy a billboard, donate to the cause, or just get additional information about the campaign, please visit Shark Savers. This grassroots organization is doing all it can do to ensure that sharks remain in our oceans and not on our plates. If you cannot afford to or don't want to donate the entire $100 toward a billboard, please email me and Mom will pay for the remainder of your billboard. Mom has also committed to match each billboard you purchase with her own billboard purchase (up to 10 billboards).
Please get the message out about shark fin soup. Even if you don't purchase a billboard you still have your voice. Your message can and will be heard loud and clear as you tell the world to stop eating shark fin soup.