Amazon.com pulls shark fin products from inventory

Victory! Today, Amazon has pulled all shark fin related products from their offering. No official statement has yet been made by the company; however it appears that they have chosen the ecologically responsible path.

Wetpixel brought this issue to the public in a post dated Jan 1 (followed by a front-page post on Jan 4). Within hours, members caused this story to spread like wildfire to many major media outlets around the world. Members pressed on, and after only 10 days of protest,  a major corporation has pulled an objectionable product line from their offering. This is an impressive feat—a testament to the power of the internet to inform and drive action. In the uphill battle to save shark populations from extinction, there are some wins. Way to go, folks!

The next step is to impress upon Amazon the importance of taking a public stand against trade of endangered species (in this case sharks). Take a moment to send a communication to Amazon voicing your support for their immediate action and asking them to take this stand (customer service at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and investor relations at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)).

If you would like to voice your support for Amazon’s decision to remove shark fin products and press them to take a public stand on this issue, please feel free to you use the following text:

To Amazon Customer Service/Investor Relations

I would first like to voice my support for Amazon’s decision to remove shark based products from your website. You have listened to the overwhelming feedback in opposition to shark products from your customers, and have taken appropriate action to address them. It is my hope and expectation that shark based products will not return to your website in the future. Furthermore, I expect that Amazon will take a public stand against trade in shark products.

It is important that you understand the basis for my concern regarding shark fin and related shark products. Shark finning trade has exploded in the last 15 years and is continuing to grow at a rate of over 5% per year. Most recent studies indicate that sharks are being harvested at a rate of 23 to 73 million sharks per year. As a consequence, worldwide shark populations have plummeted with many species declining more than 90%. Since sharks are very slow to mature and reproduce, the present rate of over-fishing is pushing many shark species to the brink of extinction.

The value of the sharks fin far exceeds the value of the rest of the shark. In restaurants, shark fin soup can fetch as much as USD150 per bowl. A shark’s fin represents about 2-5% of the total body weight and takes up relatively little storage space. As such, it is far more profitable for fishermen to sever the fins and dump of the finless sharks into the water to drown. This has lead to a worldwide ecological disaster. Finning is a cruel, wasteful and destructive practice. Sadly it is the primary means by which shark fins are harvested.

Many nations have outlawed the practice of shark finning. In particular, shark finning is banned in the Eastern Pacific, North Atlantic and waters of Australia. Having decimated shark populations in other regions of the oceans, the commercial shark fishing fleets are illegally operating in protected waters and harvesting shark fins by the millions. In the open ocean, there is little that can be done to stop them.

By ceasing to sell shark based products, Amazon has taken an important step in the right direction. Amazon now has an opportunity, and responsibility, to join other world class organizations in taking a public stand against trade and consumption of shark products and other endangered species. As an example, Disney took public action in response to significant outcry against their initial plan to serve shark fin soup. In a press release they stated, “After careful consideration and a thorough review process, we were not able to identify an environmental sustainable fishing source, leaving us no alternative except to remove shark’s fin soup from our wedding banquet menu,’‘

I urge Amazon to issue a similar statement to the public stating why they will no longer carry shark fin and related products. This would further position Amazon as an environmentally responsible and conscientious organization. Furthermore, this would cause me to resume my purchases with Amazon and resume referring others to your website.

I look forward to Amazon taking this next step.