A letter addressing the urgency of promoting endangered species conservation

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Dear Mr. Roger Sexton, and other executives of Beston Global Food Company,

This is a letter from a Chinese environmental non-government organization (ENGO) called “China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF)”. CBCGDF is an ENGO founded in 1985 which dedicates to solve environmental and wildlife conservation issues in China and around the world.

According to a social media announcement (June 9th, 2017) made by Mr. Richard Qiangdong LIU, the founder and CEO of JD.com, a cooperation agreement of Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) was signed between JD and Beston Global Food Company (BGFC). CBCGDF understands that BGFC had achieved a strategic cooperation with Chinese leading e-commerce platform JD.com about selling Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) to Chinese consumers. The screenshot of the announcement will be attached in this email.

However, Mr. LIU’s announcement instantly alarmed some conservation groups in China. Many conservationists then strongly boycotted JD’s decision regarding selling SBT. Especially due to the fact that SBT is designated as Critically Endangered (CR) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Redlist of Threatened Species, which means it ‘faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild’. SBT’s population levels are down to around 5% of original levels, yet fishing continues, particularly in Australia. What is worse, the overwhelming majority of SBT (more than 95% of those caught) are fished as juveniles in the Great Australian Bight before being fattened up in sea cages and exported to other countries. It means that, by manually interrupting the life cycle, the existing wild population will not have the possibility of rebuilding the stock simply by natural reproduction.

As a result of the efforts made by CBCGDF and a couple of other Chinese environmental groups, JD.com officially responded on June 12th that they would not sell any SBT products from their official account. A few days after, JD.com, along with other leading Chinese e-commerce platforms (i.e.taobao.com), removed all SBT products from all their online platforms.

CBCGDF disagrees with not only catching wild SBT directly out of the ocean but also the way that the most Australian aquaculture ranches raise SBT. Most of the work in the SBT ranches has nothing to do with conservation and ecological sustainability. The ranches usually bait the juvenile SBTs from the wild, keep them, and feed them with small fishes, which is ALSO caught in the wild, 15-20 times of the ranched SBT’s weight. To be more specific, every 100kg ranched SBT equals the consumption of 1.5-2 tonnes wild caught small fishes. As the result, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) advises to never consume SBT, whether it is wild caught or farmed. Sadly, some seafood sellers and existing fishing market take the advantage of the rarity of SBT and label SBT as the most expensive “World Gourmet” and luxury food item for the wealthiest people.

“No buying, no killing”. Protect and sustainably use marine and marine resources are unarguably our responsibilities, as Earth citizens, to promote sustainable development. Seafood sellers should burden the same responsibilities as well. It is understandable that sellers want profit, but the profit should be prioritized after appropriately utilizing all natural resources. We hope that sellers would take actions to conserve biodiversity and promote the sustainable development of natural resources. Food companies should work alongside with environmental groups and protect the ecological environment together. According to United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), businesses should and must play critical roles in the process of promoting sustainable development. SDG Goals 12 and 14 respectively state that we should “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns” and “conserve and sustain the oceans, seas and marine resources”. It is our utmost responsibility to live a sustainable lifestyle. Notably, Food companies should understand that your impactful influence towards society and environment will also potentially bring more profitable opportunities.

As a non-government organization dedicating environmental and wildlife protection for more than thirty years, CBCGDF believes that biodiversity conservation should take advantage of the support and efforts from all stakeholders. Environmental NGOs such as CBCGDF also strongly hopes that BGFC will participate in biodiversity conservation as a responsible entity and green sustainable development.

The private sector has an important role to play in the pursuit of sustainable use of natural resources and conservation of biodiversity. CBCGDF would suggest that, in order to save marine resources and ensure sustainable consumption, BGFC should gradually decrease and even cease the production and selling of SBT, and pursue other sustainable fishing resources instead.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks,

CBCGDF

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