The devil denizen of the deep, deep sea monster, killer of the sea.. just a few scary titles awarded to the ocean's favorite bad guy, the shark. From the scary Great White shark to the Hammerhead and the Tiger shark, all shark species are feared. But this creature is actually a peaceful and necessary predator of the ocean ecosystem. And out of 360 species, only 4 are dangerous to humans, if provoked. Sharks are rapidly being dwindled to extinction, for commercial and recreational gain. A cruel and inhuman practice among hunting techniques, is shark finning. In this article, we take a closer look at what is shark finning and why should you be concerned, along with some appalling shark finning facts.
What is Shark Finning?
The fin is a necessary part of the shark's body for movement and direction. However this body part is prized, as a cooking ingredient and medicinal purposes. A foolish and fake notion, is that sharks are immune to cancer, and hence their cartilage is a cure for cancer. So the fin, which is made up primarily of cartilage is a good medicine for cancer, cure and prevention. The actual definition of shark finning, is cutting off the fin of a live shark, and throwing the still alive shark back into the water. The suffering, bleeding shark, immobilized due to the loss of its fin, slowly sinks to the bottom of the ocean and drowns. Or it is becomes an easy target to eat, since it can't move.
Horrifying Facts About Shark Finning
→ Shark finning is a cost-cutting gimmick, to get more fins, without wasting precious time and boat space. It takes place solely at sea, so only the fins need to be transported to mainland, without the bulky shark bodies.
→ Shark meat is not as valuable or costly, as fins. Shark fins are a billion dollar industry. A pound of shark fin can cost up to $300.
→ Sharks are selective reproducers. Unlike other fish, they produce few, well-developed young, rather than a bulk of under-developed babies. They also sexually mature slowly, so their reproductive cycles take place later in life. This contributes to their population growth and features.
→ Shark finning is a direct and major cause for the steady decline in shark populations. An estimated 10-100 million sharks are slaughtered, for fins alone, with a middle figure of 38 million.
→ This practice is unmonitored and un-managed, no shark is safe, regardless of age, size or species.
→ Such large-scale devastation seriously disturbs the delicate ocean ecology. The loss of too many predators, combined with carcasses being strewn about, makes the results very difficult to control. The population of smaller predators, like rays and small sharks have increased rapidly, with no threat to control them.
→ It is extremely wasteful, in terms of hunting. 99 per cent of the shark is thrown away, leading to a loss of other products. For people dependent on sharks for food, this practice destroys their diet.
→ Shark fin soup is the main use of the fins. It is a must-have status delicacy, in China and other Asian countries, at weddings and banquets. Here's the joke, the fin itself is tasteless, but it adds a chewy and gelatinous feel to the soup. The actual flavor comes from chicken or other stock.
→ The high mercury content in shark, flesh and fin, can make it hazardous for human consumption. Pregnant women and children are more susceptible to its effects. So eating these sort of parts can be harmful to one's health in the long run.
→ Shark finning is banned in the Eastern Pacific, but is rampant in the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific and Indian Ocean.
→ The practice of shark finning is a direct violation of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
→ In the United States, a shark finning ban was imposed by President Bill Clinton, but only for U.S. registered vessels. Also fins could be brought into the country, but the sharks should not have been finned aboard that vessel.
→ Hawaii banned the possession, sale and distribution of shark fins, in 2010.
→ In January 2011, the Shark Conservation Act was passed, where all shark bodies, must be intact and brought to port. So no fins can be brought without the corresponding number and weight of carcasses.
→ In February 2011, the state of California introduced a bill, banning the sale, possession and distribution of shark fin soups. While this bill has Chinese-Americans in an uproar, its supporters insist even a small step, can go a long way in cutting down on shark finning.
Now that you know, exactly what is shark finning, and its impact on the sea, ask yourself, who is the predator and who is the victim. Sharks kill an average of 10 people, every year, either by accidentally mistaking them for prey, or if they are provoked. But humans kill nearly 100 million sharks every year! And that too for soup! Shark fin soup is a culturally important dish, in Asian countries, but disabling a living being, and leaving it to die, is a waste of the kill and of the life. The awful truth behind shark finning statistics, is that soon the presence of the mighty shark in the world's oceans, will dwindle to a myth or urban legend. All in pursuit of a fin.