Sharks are known as the “apex predator” in oceans worldwide. This is because many shark species only have one dangerous predator – humans. However, shark populations globally struggle to survive because of harmful human practices, such as overfishing and shark finning.
What is Shark Finning?
Shark finning is the horrific practice of catching a shark just to remove its fins. The shark’s fins are cut off while they are still alive. The shark is then thrown overboard and back into the ocean. Without their fins, sharks can not swim and suffer from significant blood loss. They ultimately starve to death or are slowly eaten by other fish. Most drown because sharks need to keep moving to force water through their gills for oxygen.
Why are Shark Fins so Valuable?
Most countries do not utilize shark meat in their diet because the quality is ordinarily inferior to that of something such as tuna. The only portion of the shark economically valuable to a fisherman is the actual fin.
Shark finning is a multi-billion dollar industry. There is a high demand for dried shark fins from specific countries, such as China, where eating shark fins is a symbol of status. In Chinese culture, shark fin is believed to enhance skin quality, increase energy, improve low cholesterol, and prevent heart disease. Sharks are also hunted for other products such as meat, leather, and health supplements.
Shark Fin Soup
Shark Fin soup is a popular dish in Chinese culture. Traditionally, the dish was served by Chinese Emperors. When it was first developed in ancient China, it was viewed as a luxury dish and was often served as a way to impress guests during celebrations such as weddings, banquets, and critical business deals. The dish was a way to communicate power, wealth, and prestige while showing respect, honor, and appreciation to the guests.
What are the Impacts of Shark Finning?
Shark Finning is a brutal process that needs to be stopped, not just for the cruelty that is placed upon the animals, but for the survival of shark species. DNA tests have been done on shark fins for sale and it has been found that some fins commonly traded have come from threatened and highly endangered species, such as thresher sharks or hammerhead sharks. Shark populations are also in decline due to overfishing practices and many countries have begun to place bans into effect to help defend them. Not only is shark finning cruel, but just to utilize such a small portion of the shark is inherently wasteful.
Effect on Environment and Ecosystems
Sharks help to balance coral ecosystems. They feed off certain invasive species, prevent the spread of diseases carried by ailing fish, and encourage marine diversity. They are a keystone of the food chain and keep the carbon cycle in motion. Simply put, they help to combat climate change. Sharks are apex predators and play a vital role in maintaining most marine ecosystems. Without them, marine animals and habitats would suffer. The practice of shark finning can significantly affect humans in that shark products can contain dangerous levels of mercury, presenting a public health risk.
Countries That Practice Shark Finning
Some of the world’s shark fishing nations are Indonesia, India, Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, and South Korea. Out of these top shark fishing nations, Indonesia, India, and Spain account for over 35% of the world’s annual total reported shark catch. Countries within Europe, particularly Spain, are the main suppliers of shark fins to China, the world’s largest consumer of fins. Despite the worldwide decline in shark populations, many of these countries do not have any legal mechanisms in place to manage shark fisheries.
Countries Where Shark Finning is Illegal
With shark populations in such decline due to bad fishing practices, many countries have begun to place bans to help defend them. Among these locations are Panama, Honduras, South Africa, Namibia, El Salvador, and Sierra Leone. In New South Wales, Australia no finning is allowed in coastal waters, and sharks may not be taken on board any vessel without fins naturally attached.
Shark Finning Facts: Why Sharks Need Our Help
- 100 million sharks are killed annually.
- It’s estimated that over 72 million sharks are killed annually just for shark fin soup.
- In the United States, only 11 states have bans against the sale of fins.
- The Blue shark is one of the most commonly traded species, with around 20 million killed for their fins every year.
- According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are nearly 100 species of sharks at high risk of global extinction.
- Shark fin soup is sold at many restaurants worldwide, with a single bowl going for up to $100 a bowl.
How Can We Stop Shark Finning
You can play a role in preventing the practice of shark finning. There are several ways that campaign groups, government bodies, and organizations are working to address this cruel practice. Placing bans on finning, trade restrictions, and shark sanctuaries are some current movements many volunteers participate in. Encourage friends and family to read more about shark finning and support organizations that are working towards better conservation regulations.
SeaQuest is committed to protecting our world’s oceans and endangered animals. We focus on how to be proactive in finding solutions. To learn more about how you can help SeaQuest with this cause, book your visit today at any of the following locations: Utah, Las Vegas, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Sacramento, Minneapolis, Connecticut, Lynchburg, New Jersey, and Atlanta.