Basketball star Yao Ming has been working overtime to raise the profile of the ugly reality of shark fin soup in China in conjunction with international organizations WildAid and Shark Savers.
Ming, a popular role model in China, is a driving force behind the Buy A Billboard Campaign in China. The campaign helps people from around the world purchase billboard space for US$100 (€70) and place an anti-shark fin soup advertisement in high profile locations in Chinese cities.
“This price includes production, installation, maintenance, and lighting for a full year. These ads are large, most are lighted, and they will be placed in many high-traffic locations in Beijing and Shanghai at eye-level,” explains Shark Savers.
The Anti-Shark Fin Soup Campaign is having some great results. Last year, WildAid had 200 billboards in Beijing for 3 months. In a survey, 19% of residents remembered having seen the boards and 82% of those people said they would stop or reduce their consumption of shark fin soup.
The billboards are just one part of a multi-media and grassroots campaign that includes television public service announcements featuring Yao Ming, a web site and communication material in English and Chinese.
Shark fin soup is the primary reason why sharks are disappearing worldwide. Shark fin is a tasteless and non-nutritious ingredient of a popular soup served primarily at weddings and banquets within Asian communities for its traditional image of promoting health and prosperity and reflecting the status of the hosts. Unfortunately, the consumption of shark fin soup has skyrocketed in recent decades as China has become more prosperous.