An estimated hundred million sharks are being killed each year in international waters, and many species are being pushed to the brink of extinction. Scientists are warning of the catastrophic results this will have on the fragile marine ecosystems. Animal rights groups are outraged, and people who make their living from the sea are worried about the economic setbacks they will face if this continues. The reason for all of this? Shark Fin Soup.
Shark Fin Soup has been around for over 2000 years, and until recently was a delicacy enjoyed only by the privileged elite. With the price for a bowl being anywhere between $10.00 and $100.00, this luxury item was something that most Chinese could not afford. However, as the Chinese economy booms, this once rare dish is becoming a common item served at restaurants and social events.
With shark fins being one of the most profitable items to be taken from the sea, at $500 dollars a pound, fishermen are eagerly doing whatever they can to supply the increasing demand. In order to make the most money per fishing trip, the majority of fishermen have resorted to the practice of finning.
The bodies of sharks can be sold for various uses, but the bodies are bulky and do not bring in as much money as the fins. To save space on the fishing vessels, fishermen will cut the fins off of the sharks and throw the bodies back into the ocean. Unfortunately, most of these sharks are still alive when they are thrown back into the water. Finless and unable to swim, these poor creatures sink to the bottom where they suffocate or are eaten by other predators.
As the demand for shark fins increases, the over fishing for this valuable commodity is causing the populations of all species of shark to diminish. Since the fishermen don’t discriminate, scientists predict that some species will be forced into extinction. Marine ecosystems are very fragile, and removing a predator that has been around for a million years, could have a cataclysmic effect.
The United States has banned the practice of finning in its waters, but other countries do not have the same restrictions. Even in areas where there are regulations, they are difficult to uphold. Some countries require the sharks to be brought to land in once piece, but most ports do not monitor the shipments coming in.
Until people decide to quit eating shark fin soup, the cruel and wasteful hunt will continue. Agreeing to avoid this delicacy, and encouraging local restaurants to quit serving it, is a great start in the battle to save the world’s shark populations.
Please take a moment to sign the No Shark Fin Pledge.