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Shark Finning: A History Of Shark Abuse

Do you know how many sharks are killed for shark fin soup? Shark finning is a practice that has resulted in the killing of millions of sharks every year.

Every year, legal, illegal, unregulated, and unlicensed fishing activities kill millions more, putting different species of shark, ray, dogfish, and more at risk of extinction. Here we will look at some shark finning facts.

What Is Shark Finning?

Shark fins are used in traditional Chinese medicine and are a delicacy in Asia. Consequently, there is a global shark fin trade. The fins are an essential component of shark fin soup, which is popular in China, Hong Kong, and other Chinese communities worldwide. Shark populations worldwide are on the decline due to shark finning practices.

How Often Are Shark Fins Used?

fin soup

There’s a lot to learn about the number of sharks slaughtered for shark fin soup. Shark fins are used to make this delicacy, which was traditionally offered to ancient Chinese emperors and other members of the ruling class.

After drying and cleaning the fin cartilage, it is mixed into a seasoned soup with other seafood or chicken broth and herbs. This meal can cost up to $100 per bowl and requires time and effort to prepare. It is commonly served at weddings and other formal occasions such as banquets. The dish’s presentation is rather aristocratic, and some even believe it brings good fortune.

When evaluated by weight, dried shark fin is one of the most expensive types of seafood on the planet, which is one of the main reasons fishers go after sharks for their fins. Dried shark fin frequently fetches upwards of $1,000 per kilogram (or $2,200 per pound).

See Related: Dusky Shark

A Brief History of Shark Finning

History of Shark Finning

During the Ming Dynasty in China, about 600 years ago, shark fins were first introduced as ceremonial food. The dish was supposedly reserved for royalty, but it soon became common fare at big parties like weddings and other important events.

The practice became common in traditional Chinese culture because people thought eating shark fins would make them stronger. In traditional Chinese culture, shark fin is a unique food, like a Thanksgiving turkey. It is not often eaten, but it has significantly affected shark populations. With the enormous Chinese population, the impact of shark finning is greater than ever.

Because of the industrial revolution, shark fishing tools got better, so there were more shark fins. The amount of work and effort needed to catch sharks, which used to be very hard, got much easier. With today’s modern fishing techniques and equipment, sharks don’t stand a chance.

Since it was first made centuries ago, shark fin soup has become very popular. Even though a bowl of soup in China can cost as much as $100, the country’s fast economic growth has made it possible for millions of people to buy it regularly. This has put even more pressure on shark populations.

While it typically isn’t an everyday dish, you can still find shark fin soup at wedding banquets, big parties, and business events in China. A widespread myth is that shark fin soup is actually required for events like weddings, birthday parties, and Chinese New Year celebrations.

With shark numbers on the decline, there have been some improvements in how Chinese consumers are taught about this harmful practice. The number of people in China who eat shark fin soup has dropped by at least 50% because of Yao Ming’s work to protect sharks.

As late as 2006, 75% of Chinese people didn’t know how bad things were for shark populations, and assumed slaughtering them for their fins was A-OK. But as of right now, 91% of Chinese people want to ban shark finning all over the country!

As businesses that sell shark fins look for new ways to make money and sell their products, the market has moved away from China. Wild Aid thinks that Thailand is an important new market for shark fins. Some of the other essential places globally are Macau, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Why Is Shark Finning Bad?

Cutting off Shark fin

Fining sharks need to be stopped. It’s utterly barbaric. Each year, millions of sharks are killed so that their fins can be used to make soup. Typically the shark, ray, or dogfish will be landed, its fins cut off and the animal thrown back into the sea to die. This random killing for the sake of fins is putting many shark species on the verge of extinction.

If that wasn’t enough of a reason why shark finning is bad, it gets worse. Without sharks, there is a real risk; the entire oceanic ecosystems could collapse.

See Related: Great Hammerhead Shark

Why Must We Care For Sharks?

Why care for Shark

What would happen if there was shark overfishing and every shark species died out? Is it as terrible as it seems?

It is common knowledge that sharks are a keystone species. Fish populations and health, seagrass and coral reef ecosystems, and more have all been regulated and maintained by the presence of sharks. When sharks are removed, what is known as a “trophic cascade” occurs, which results in the collapse of the entire aquatic environment. These cascades have been presented to us on several previous occasions.

Exterminating predators in Yellowstone National Park was one example of US government action with detrimental effects on the local ecosystem. By 1926, the last wolf had been eradicated, which set off a trophic cascade. The result was a breakdown of the ecology, which led to the near-extinction of almost every native species in the region.

The physical health of our oceans controls the temperatures of the whole planet and slows down the rate of climate change. In Western Australia, tiger sharks are known to patrol the seagrass meadows. These sharks keep sea turtles, dugongs, and other species from overeating seagrass.

Tiger sharks’ superior monitoring abilities have aided in maintaining carbon sediment reserves by increasing CO2 intake, which has increased primary production. As one of the largest and most significant carbon stores on the planet, marine sediments are critical to halting climate change.

Even though seagrass only covers 0.2 percent of the ocean floor, it stores about 10 percent of all the carbon that the ocean can hold. Seagrass is a resource that, despite its little, packs a powerful punch.

If sharks are overfished, then this all comes crumbling down.

Is Shark Finning Illegal?

Finn on the floor

Since the year 2000, several countries, including the United States and the vast majority of other nations around the world, have enacted laws that make it illegal to engage in this activity in their respective coastal waters. However, sales of fins are not prohibited at this time.

Both the Western Pacific Association of Councils for Atlantic and Pacific Pelagic Fisheries (West PAC) and the International Council for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas and Sharks (ICCAT) prohibit the practice of shark finning in their longline tuna and swordfish fishing fleets according to shark finning laws.

It would likely be tough to enforce this legislation against people who unlawfully sell or hunt animals, but this is a great start. More than a hundred species are designated as critically endangered or vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Still, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Floral (CITES) only protects a few.

Even though CITES was founded in 1973, this continues to be the case. There are no implications for small boats and countries that don’t recognize CITES or other agreements concerning shark fin commerce. Sharks need to be protected while also managing national and international fisheries and local efforts to reduce the consumption of shark fins.

See Related: Great White Shark

Can Shark Fins Be Sold Legally?

Shark Fins in the bucket

The commerce in shark fins occurs on a large and international scale. In the United States of America, the purchase of fins is restricted in 14 states, including New York, Hawaii, and California. However, the importation of shark items caught outside the United States is not prohibited by shark finning laws enacted at the state level.

The United States buys shark fins from nations like China, India, and Indonesia that do not have restrictions on the practice of shark finning. There are currently very few rules worldwide that govern the selling of shark fins. In nations with regulations against shark finning, shark fins can be sold legally. However, the source of the fin and the technique by which the shark was killed may still be illegal.

To comply with these agreements, the shark carcass must be brought to the port alongside the shark itself, or if it has been severed, it must adhere to a predetermined ratio of fins to the body.

This ratio is so high in specific locations, such as the EU, that it enables the capture of a more significant number of sharks than what would be indicated by the fin weight alone. For example, most whale sharks are processed in Hong Kong before being re-exported to mainland China and other countries such as the United States.

Fins that are sold in their dried form lack any documentation regarding the location of the shark’s capture, the species of shark, or whether or not the shark was lawfully harvested or finned on the high seas.

The majority of dried shark fins are barely distinguishable from one species to the next. Once it is sold in stores or placed in bowls, most customers will not be aware of the origin of the fin or whether or not it was obtained through legal or illegal means.

See Related: Whale Hunting

Where Is Shark Finning Legal?

Where Is Shark Finning Legal

Hong Kong is the biggest major importer of shark fins around the globe and accounts for roughly half of the trade that takes place in global trade.

At Sai Ying Pun, fins of sharks and rays from more than a hundred nations and 76 different species are available. Of those species, at least one-third are vulnerable.

Importance in Terms of Ocean Health

Large sharks, such as the great white shark, have an essential part to play at the very top of the marine food chain since they are apex predators. When these top predators are removed, an imbalance known as a trophic cascade is created, which leads to a reduction in abundance and a worsening of the ecosystem’s health.

Without them, there is a risk that the entire food chain would be disrupted, which will severely influence the whole environment, including the fish that people like eating.

Vulnerability of Sharks

Shark overfishing and the demand for shark fins lead to a steep decline in large shark populations. Compared to other kinds of fish, members of this genus of aquatic animals develop slowly, reach maturity at an advanced age, and have a low reproductive rate. Because of these features, they are particularly susceptible to people’s exploitation.

Final Thoughts

The practice of finning sharks concerns both the environment and animal welfare. The technique is not only incomprehensibly cruel, but the broader impact it produces can throw the delicate balance of entire ecosystems off.

Selling shark fins is a practice that has put the whole shark population at risk of shark extinction. There is a pressing need to develop strong and effective remedies to end this trade. Even though people worldwide have tried banning shark finning, little has been done to regulate or ban the practice.

Activists for animal rights have spoken out about how to stop shark fining. Threatened species suffer significantly as a result of shark finning. Everyone must ensure that the numerous campaigns to raise awareness about shark finning and the predicament of some species are successful.

The future of the shark population is in the hands of everyone, as shark finning is a cruel act that must be stopped in any case if all aquatic life is to be saved.


How Many Sharks Are Killed For Shark Fin Soup?

It is estimated that between 70 and 100 million sharks are killed for their fins every year.

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