There are currently over 400 species of sharks swimming in our earth's waters. They are one of the oldest apex predators (around 450 million years old) and are a huge factor in keeping the ocean and its fish population under control. Its bad enough the demand for human consumption of fish is a factor in the threat to our oceans, but what about the bigger threats that we pose to the population of sharks?
Approx. 100 million sharks are killed each year by humans. The deaths range from accidental motor killings, environment degradation, to commercial fishing boats picking them up accidentally while hunting for other fish, to being targeted by ludicrous humans aimed to torture, and the biggest threat of all- being targeted for a popular asian dish known as shark fin soup.
Shark finning, Currently the biggest threat to the most important predator to grace our oceans.
Mind you, shark finning is not just illegal, but shark fishing in general has been banned by a wide list of countries.
below is a list of countries currently banning shark finning, shark fishing and the shipment of shark parts. Also, a list of places that currently use shark fins or transport them. Listed is one of our own airlines, United.
List of countries banning shark fishing and finning
There are currently 14 species of sharks targeted by the shark fin trade.
Below is a link to those 14 species:
The 14 species of sharks at risk
and here is a link to critically endangered shark species, for more than one reason:
10 amazing endangered shark species
The shark fins are used in a popular asian delicacy known as shark fin soup. Sure, a dish using a fish is harmless right ?
You'd be surprised how wrong this is, The fins are actually cut off when the sharks are still alive, and the fishermen then proceed to throw the sharks back into the ocean. Where they are likely to suffer a long and painful death. They can bleed to death, die of suffocation (sharks must be in constant swim motion to stay alive) or get eaten by other predatory creatures of the ocean. This leaves them and their shark families devastated.
The dish is rumored to have medical properties (which are not scientifically proven) but what the science really shows, is that sharks contain a high Level of mercury and subsequently pose a threat to our health. The fin itself has little to no taste and is actually used as a texture additive to the dish. Which is served at weddings or banquets. Showing that the dish itself is prized and not really sought after for the taste or health benefits. The soup itself can range from $100 a serving and higher, making it a must-have in wealthy asian culture.
It's extremely hard to catch the fisherman who are participating in this illegal act, given the vastness of the ocean and the hundreds of thousands of fisherman going in and out of the waters daily. Making it almost impossible, to accurately records the numbers and report them correctly. Leaving the targeted species vulnerable to being at a greater risk than previously thought.
While many countries ban the finning and fishing of sharks, many places still serve the dish and do little to nothing to persecute the people caught in the act. These 'laxed laws and persecution rates, leave many comfortable with committing such crimes. At a whopping $450 a pound for the shark fins alone, its no wonder the prized dollars makes them highly sought after. The shark meat is priced less than your average fish, so the meat to these fisherman is considered useless, which is why they are generally thrown back in finless, alive and helpless . There are approx 26-73 million shark fins being bought and consumed per year in china alone. This is but one country indulging in the shark fin delicacy.
Here is a link to the shark conservation act.
Shark conservation act
There are wonderful organizations like the WWF who work everyday to not only to help these endangered species be protected and studied, but other endangered species as well.
You can even Adopt a great white (how fun is that) Below is a link to do just that
You can always donate to these ocean researchers and organizations (But always be sure to do your research to make sure they are actually using the money for that)
ways sharks are being helped
Here is a link to more ways you can help
Ways to help
Not only is our awareness necessary, but our donations, studies and our active participation in spreading this knowledge. One day at a time we can save endangered species.