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November 10, 2008

Shark Fin Soup: An Apology

Two separate mentions of shark fin soup in our October issue drew a wave of letters from readers criticizing a dish that has helped contribute to the dangerous depopulation of sharks in the world's seas. We agree with our readers and deeply apologize for the oversight. We at Condé Nast Traveler do not condone the practice of cutting the fins of sharks and tossing the live animal back into the sea to die. Nor do we support the massive overfishing, poaching, and pollution that has put this ancient and unfairly demonized creature on the brink of extinction.

The good news, as our readers demonstrated, is that people are starting to be educated. Looking for more information? The documentary Sharkwater is a great place to start.


Cocos Island, Costa Rica is both a National Park and a World Heritage Site. The marine flora and fauna surrounding this remote island is unlike any other in the world. It is currently under siege. Shark poaching is rampant here and this inhumane practice (fins are cut off the living shark and the animal is tossed overboard to die slowly) is devastating the underwater ecosystem. Over the last fifteen years different groups and individuals have tried to launch efforts to stop the poaching at Cocos. "Sharkwater" produced by Rob Stewart begins to show the complexity of the problem. Shark populations are in trouble worldwide. Without this apex predator the health of the rest of the animals in the ocean pyramid will be endangered.

'Virtual Cocos Island', is a project that will help shift the tide and increase awareness about the existence of illegal finning practices. The program will also underscore the danger that the increased popularity of fin soup poses to our oceans. By teaching families in local fishing communities about the dangers of finning, the importance of the Cocos ecosystem and providing these families with viable economic alternatives we can hope for change. 'Virtual Cocos Island' will use the power of media, education and viable alternatives to stop poaching at Cocos Island. This project will serve as a launchpad for other similar projects worldwide.

Virtual Cocos Island was a semi-finalist in the recent American Express Members Project.

To learn more about this project, please review


Georgienne Bradley
Executive Director, Imaging Foundation
Advisor, Shark Research Institute
Inductee, Women Divers Hall of Fame

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