All across the world there are tens of millions of sharks that die a slow, torturous, unnecessary death year after year, because of the shark finning industry. When sharks are finned the sharks are captured and harvested in ridiculous numbers, then are brought onboard and had their fins hacked off. Then their finless still living, breathing, bodies are thrown back into the ocean where they are left to starve, be eaten by other fish or drown to death. Shark fins are primarily being stolen in such large numbers because of the growing demand for shark fin soup, which is an Asian delicacy, but one that has spread to the U.S.
This ongoing attack on sharks is not only horrific in nature to the sharks themselves, but the constant slaughtering of various types of sharks is quickly driving many species to the brink of extinction.
Shark finning is one of the most shameful, cruelest examples man has displayed towards what they feel is nothing more than a dispensable animal. Shark Finning is purely a way of making a profit with no regard for the lives being taken or the effects these actions have on the ecosystem.
A lot of people don’t realize the importance of sharks. We are talking about an animal that has been around for over 400 million years and plays a crucial role in our ecosystem. If sharks went extinct tomorrow, the ocean world as we know it could be completely destroyed. Without the oceans top predator, the sharks prey for example fish, seals, dolphins, sea lions, etc. would multiply. If the sharks prey were to multiply it would destroy the very delicate food chain. You have to understand, sharks eat a large amount of sick and weak fish, because they are an easy kill, this type of feeding keeps the population healthier. Another factor to consider is that shark’s keep the prey fish populations in control because just as extinction affects the balance of the ecosystem so does overpopulation.
You see, sharks are what we call a “keystone” predator, which means they are at the top of their food chain and without them the food chain would inevitably collapse. What most people don’t get is that if sharks were eliminated the impact would also be felt by humans in that some of the main fish that are fished for commercial sale would not be available. Many aquatic plants would also be under stress with the elimination of sharks and the world’s amazing coral reefs would become overrun with algae, because the Tuna that were gone now from the elimination of the sharks were not there to clean the reefs. It’s a domino effect. When one brick falls everything next to it falls too.
Right now there is a ban on finning in the United States, unfortunately that really doesn’t deter the act from happening. Ideally what the end goal would be is for shark fishing to be banned but that is a monster that we need to attack in small steps. There are a lot of people that have a lot of money invested in that industry that we are not yet ready to tackle because it is a fight at this moment that we cannot win. So, a good start is to try to have the purchase, sale and distribution of shark fin products be banned in each state. If we can get each state onboard, it would make other laws, stronger laws, easier to pass. There’s strength in numbers, so the more states we can get the better. We also can work on stronger enforcement for the laws we do have in effect like the law that states all sharks that are fished must come to land intact. In January 2011, President Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act to strengthen the federal law against shark finning in U.S. waters, and require that sharks be landed with their fins still attached. Nevertheless, fins that have been removed from live sharks outside U.S. territorial waters continue to be imported to satisfy the demand for shark fin products in California and other U.S. states. Similar laws prohibiting the sale, trade, and possession of shark fins have been passed in Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, the Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Washington and most recently Delaware.
I know that banning the purchase, sale and distribution of shark fin products is not a solution to the problem as a whole, and that it’s not as glamorous or as seemingly impactful as banning the fishing of sharks all together, but it’s where we have to start, and believe me cutting off the demand for the products is a pretty good start.
If anyone has any questions or would like additional information on shark finning, please feel free to get in touch with me and I will pass along any information I have. If you have the time there is a very informative documentary out called Sharkwater by Rob Stewart, that gives a pretty good look into what the sharks are up against. As I said before, drop me an email if you’re interested, and I can give you a list of resources you can check out to learn more about what sharks are going through every day.
Shark Finning Explained