Undercover activists bust “world’s biggest whale shark slaughterhouse” in China

The factory processes nearly 600 endangered sharks each year

Topics: sharks, endangered species, wildlife, marine life, Poaching, ,

Undercover activists bust "world's biggest whale shark slaughterhouse" in ChinaWhale shark fins are dried and stacked for export. This processing plant processes over 600 whale sharks per year. Puqi, Zhejiang Province, China. (Credit: WildLife Risk)

The world’s a cruel place for whales, a cruel place for sharks, and, according to information revealed by a four-year undercover investigation , also pretty terrible for whale sharks. (Which, for the record, are a type of shark.)

Via The Dodo, Hong Kong-based conservation group WildLife Risk uncovered what they’re calling “the world’s largest wholesale slaughter of an internationally protected endangered species.” The hefty allegation is back up by evidence that the factory processes about 600 whale sharks per year, all in the service of bring us leather bags, skin care products, omega-3 supplements and shark fin soup, among other essentials.



The factory’s general manager, identified in the report as one Mr. Li Guang, is captured in the group’s footage admitting that the facility also processes basking sharks (endangered) and great white sharks (protected, unless you’re in Western Australia), pumping nearly 220 tons of oil from the three species’ livers each year. Their skins and dried fins, he also reveals, are smuggled out of China to Chinese restaurants in France and Italy.

The whole operation is a huge money maker: according to the report, a single shark fin can retail for $31,000, and the group has evidence to suggest that a global trade network is profiting. Yet Paul Hilton, WildLife Risk’s director, told the Dodo he’s optimistic that the Chinese government — which has recently been taking high-profile action against wildlife poaching — will shut the whole thing down.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...