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Shark fins removed from 'front window' of China-based website, but apparently still available to buyers

January 9, 2009 | 11:37 am

Shark divers

As suspected by conservation groups and subtly alluded to Thursday on Outposts, sharks around the world probably are no safer than they were before Alibaba.com, on Jan. 1, stopped allowing the open sale of shark fins on its global marketplace website.

That's because some wholesalers, while they can no longer list shark fins on the site, apparently are still selling them on request to interested buyers.

Shark fins, you may recall, are the key ingredient for shark-fin soup. Fins are obtained by fishermen who net and haul sharks aboard, slice off their fins, and discard the writhing sharks, which sink and slowly die.

It is perhaps the most disgusting form of fishing on the planet -- yet, demand for shark-fin soup remains high in many parts of the world.

Outposts salutes Shark Diver for exposing the loophole in Alibaba's new guidelines.

Shark Diver, during the first week of January, claims to have posed as three different buyers asking for 11,000 pounds of shark fins from 11 sellers. Nine reportedly responded positively, and the other two did not respond. Shark Diver, a commercial shark-diving company, sourced 88,000 pounds of shark fins.

"This is not in anyway an eco win," said Patric Douglas, CEO of Shark Diver. "They just took the shark fins out of the front window."

Guess it did seem too good to be true.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo of lemon shark courtesy of Christie Fisher via Shark Diver