December 18, 2008
Yahoo! Endangering Sharks?
Yahoo!, through its 40% share of Chinese search engine Alibaba.com supports one of the largest marketplaces trading in shark fins. So said the president of the Sea Shepherd Society towards the end of an interview on WebmasterRadio.FM’s RainMaker earlier today. Sea Shepherd president Captain Paul Watson, host of the Discovery Network program Whale Wars, asked listeners to email their contacts at Yahoo! to complain about Yahoo!’s involvement in what Watson says is, “the destruction of the world's sharks for shark fin soup in China.” The Sea Shepherd, along with several other environmental organizations, claims the trade in shark fins is decimating shark populations around the world and pushing some species of shark towards extinction. The issue was recently covered in the LA Times and featured on CNN's Planet in Peril series. Activists appear to be targeting Alibaba.com exclusively however searches conducted at other search engines, including Google produce paid results leading to products produced from shark fins. A search of Alibaba.com found a thriving market in shark fins. Alibaba.com displays over 600 listings of shark fin vendors. A search for shark fins at Baidu.com produced 7,200 references, the first few pages of which could be paid-placements. On Google.com, a Shopzilla PPC ad appears which leads to 40 listings for shark fin cartilage products. The first few pages of organic results reference websites opposing the trade in shark fins. Considered a delicacy in many countries and used in health products, shark fins are often obtained illegally. According to SharkSavers.com, tens of millions of sharks are killed annually for their fins. The extraction process is often carried out while the shark is still alive with its finless but still living body thrown back into the ocean to drown. Because sharks reach sexual maturity late and raise few young, it takes a long time for shark populations to recover from over fishing. SharkSavers estimates some species “are now below 10% of their former populations.” Alibaba.com contends it is not breaking any laws and says it does not provide a marketplace for products derived from animals listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).