A food blogger in China has been fined 125,000 yuan ($18,500 USD) by government authorities after posting a video of her buying and eating a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), an animal that is protected under Chinese law.
The video, posted on the social media sites Douyin and Kuaishou, came with extreme backlash online from viewers. In it, a woman identified as “Jin,” by officials but who goes by “Tizi” in her videos, went to a shop to pick out a 2 meter (6.6 foot) white shark from a shop, posing with it by lying on the floor, and then later cooking and eating the animal. While the video posted in July, officials in the southwestern province of Sichuan came out with a statement over the weekend confirming that the woman had broken the country’s wildlife protection laws.
Officials from Nanchong stated that “Jin” paid for the great white shark through Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Taobao shopping site back in April, and were alerted to the influencer’s video online. By August they had begun to investigate her, and even obtained tissue remnants to run DNA tests on. It confirmed what the blogger had stated in her video: this indeed was a great white shark. Found in cool, coastal waters around the world, these predators are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as ‘Vulnerable’ as they breed very slowly, form localised populations, and are threatened by overfishing and habitat degradation. Protected by Chinese law, the country also imposed a total ban on the trade and consumption of wildlife in February 2020 following evidence that these sort of activities caused the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus to jump from the animal world to humans. China has also recently revised their Wildlife Protection Law (WPL) at the end of 2022, which will come into effect on the 1st of May this year. These changes include the prevention of “zoonosis spillover, the management of captive-bred wild animals, strengthening wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and further stipulating the responsibility of the private sector in wildlife crime prevention.”
“[The International Fund for Animal Welfare] IFAW welcomes the inclusion of strengthening wildlife rescue in the new Law and looks forward to providing further support to wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in China through BRRC and IFAW’s global Center of Excellence Initiative,” said Grace Ge Gabriel, IFAW’s Senior Advisor for Asia affairs to the new changes. Still, some wildlife advocates say these changes do not go far enough, and fail to outlaw harmful activities such as captive breeding.
It is currently unsure what other penalties Jin will face due to her actions. However, officials have said that two other individuals involved in catching and selling the great white shark were also arrested.