Oscar Winning Filmmakers of The Cove Help Bust Endangered Species Slaughterhouse in China

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Boulder, Colorado — The Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS), filmmakers of the 2009 Oscar Winning documentary "The Cove", have documented the discovery of the largest wholesale slaughter of endangered sharks at a factory in China's Zhejiang Province by investigative journalist group WildLifeRisk. The factory dismantles 600 whale sharks a year for various products, the most lucrative of which is shark liver oil, used in skin care products, lipstick and for Omega-3 health supplements.

OPS joined a sting operation at the Chinese factory in PuQi following a threeyear investigation by Hong Kong NGO activists Paul Hilton and Alex Hofford of WildLifeRisk, whose footage inside the processing facility provided the basis of the investigation. The teams covertly filmed the owner, Mr. Li Guang, by posing as an international seafood trading company. At the January 2013 meeting were Hilton, investigative conservation journalist Shawn Heinrichs, “The Cove” Director Louie Psihoyos, OPS undercover operatives Charles Hambleton and Heather Rally, and an anonymous interpreter.

Mr. Li presented the group with jars of shark oil of the only three internationally protected shark species at the time of the meeting—great whites, basking sharks, and whale sharks. When exporting the shark oil, Mr. Li admitted to mislabeling it as fish oil, and said that he has to smuggle other products like shark flesh out of the country.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), of which China is a signatory, is an international treaty that protects threatened and endangered species from exploitation by banning the trade of their products across national borders. A total of six shark species are currently afforded protection by CITES.

In a joint-statement, Alex Hofford and Paul Hilton of WildLifeRisk said, “How these harmless creatures, these gentle giants of the deep, can be slaughtered on such an industrial scale is beyond belief. We firmly believe the trade must stop, and it must stop now, or else these animals will eventually face extinction.” Louie Psihoyos said, “The scale of this operation is staggering. Thanks to the work of WildLifeRisk and others that have to remain unnamed to continue this dangerous and important work, we have a real shot at shutting Mr. Li down.” The footage will appear in OPS’s next film on mass species extinction, currently titled “The Heist.” The feature length documentary is set to release later this year. The film features a team of activists that hatch a plan to recapture the public imagination to call attention to extinction of species. Scientists predict we could lose half the species on the planet by the end of the century in what’s called the Anthropocene Extinction, or “The Age of Man.”




About Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS)

Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) creates film, photography and outreach that inspire people to save the oceans. OPS’s film The Cove won the Academy Award for Best Documentary of 2009.

About WildLifeRisk

WildLifeRisk is an endangered species conservation group based in Hong Kong with offices in Indonesia, set up to conduct investigations into the illegal wildlife trade, and carry out public awareness campaigns across the globe.


Oceanic Preservation Society

Gina Papabeis
Candace Crespi
phone: +1 303-444-2454


Paul Hilton
phone: +852 9416 0972 +62 813 3980 1257
skype: pauljhilton

Alex Hofford
phone: +852 9635 7214
skype: alexhofford

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