To: CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), UN (United Nations)
Sharks are a pivotal part of the oceanic food chain if the brutal practice of shark finning is allowed to continue the food chain will collapse and cause catastrophic damage to the bio-diversity of the ocean. Please end this horrible uneeded practice.
Sincerely, The Ocean Protectors
Humans every year kill 100 million sharks and for what?
Shark Fins – For a tasteless bowl of soup
Shark Teeth – For Jewlery
Shark Jaws – For Tourists
Shark Cartilage – For Phony Cancer Cures In The Form Of Pills
Shark Liver Oil – For Cosmetic Products
100 million sharks are killed each year by longlining, sport fishermen,or by a cruel practice of shark finning. Hooked sharks are hauled onto boats; their fins are sliced off while they are still alive. These helpless animals are then tossed back into the ocean where, unable to swim without their fins, they sink towards the bottom and die an agonizing death.
“His entire form is fluid, weaving from side to side; his head moves slowly from left to right, right to left, timed to the rhythm of his motion through the water. Only the eye is fixed, focused on me, circling within the orbit of his head, in order not to lose sight for a fraction of a second of his prey or, perhaps of his enemy.”
This passage is describing a Blue Shark and was written by Philippe Cousteau in the book The Shark: Splendid Savage of the Sea. In 1967 when Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Philippe Cousteau embarked on the expedition to make an entire film about sharks, in the now famous research boat Calypso, sharks were plentiful in the oceans and it was very easy to find and film them, but things have changed since then. Now sharks that were once plentiful when the Calpso sailed are hard to find and in some areas of the world very rare. So were did all of the sharks go? To answer that question we must take a trip back in time.
Back in the golden ages of China the emperors were the most important people in China and only the absolute best of everything was considered acceptable to them including their cuisine. A staple of their diets that was exceptionally important to them was a fancy dish called shark fin soup. The reason for the importance of this dish was that back then shark fins were extremely rare but that wasn’t because sharks were rare it was due to the extreme amount of effort it took to acquire the shark fins. After the imperial age ended in China people other than the emperor started to eat shark fin soup but it was still only a dish only eaten by the super-rich and the super-powerful in China. This restriction lasted all the way until after the Chinese government was reformed and Chinese people began to ascend into the middle class.
With 90% of the world’s large shark populations already wiped out, sharks are being depleted faster than they can reproduce. This threatens the stability of marine ecosystems around the world. Sharks are vitally important apex predators. They have shaped marine life in the oceans for over 400 million years and are essential to the health of the planet, and ultimately to the survival of mankind.
After the forming of the middle class more people than ever began to eat shark fin soup and the demand for shark fins jumped dramatically. At it’s most expensive a pound of shark fin can sell for over $200 US dollars and at it cheapest $90 US dollars. With all of this money to be made money fishermen began to deliberatley target sharks just for their fins. At first it was just Chinese fishermen but then Taiwan jumped into the game soon followed by fishermen from several other countries including Costa Rica and Guatemala. Now the shark fin trade is a billion dollar industry and it provides alot of income to the countries that take part in it. So with all of this market boosting money and the thousands of jobs that the shark fin industry creates what is the problem?
In China and other places around the world many people eat shark fin soup. It is served at birthday parties, weddings, and any other important occasion. So with all of these people eating it you would think that it is a delicous dish that tastes amazingly good. Surprisingly you would be wrong. Sharks fin is made of cartilage and is virtually tasteless but still shark fin soup is loved by alot of people. How the Chinese prepare shark fin soup is relatively easy. They take the dried out fin and soak it in chicken stoclk until it dissolves into gooey strands that are nearly inedible. The strands of shark fin are then added to a broth made of soy sauce, rock sugar, and chicken or beef stock. The flavorless fin just tastes of whatever is in the soup broth. So why is shark fin soup so important in Chinese culture? It is because the Chinese see it as a symbol of importance and treat it as though it was still only meant for the emperors.
So why is shark fin soup a problem for the oceans? It is not the fin served in the soup itself it is how the fin is harvested. Shark fins make up only 5% of a sharks total body weight which means that when the fishermen only use the fins they are wasting 95% of the shark. This is extremely wasteful but it is still only part of the problem. The real problem is a practice called finning. Shark finning is when a shark is hauled onboard the fishing boat usually by a long line or a drift net and when the shark is still alive the fishermen cut off all off the fins including the tail before throwing the still alive shark back into the ocean to slowly drown to death. Sharks need water to be flowing over their gills in order for them to breathe. That means that a shark has to constantly be in motion. When they are thrown back into the ocean without their fins they have no way to propel themselves and as a result the sharks sink to the ocean bottom while slowly suffocating to death.
Over 100,000 sharks are killed each year by this horrifyingly inhumane practice and its not just the adult sharks that are killed for their fins its juveniles and babies also. In one extreme case a fishing boat hauled aboard a massive pregnant Great White shark. After cutting off the mothers fins the fishermen slit open her stomach and cut all of the fins off of the baby Great White sharks before tossing everything else back into the ocean.
Fortunatley cruel cases of shark finning like this are rare but that does not mean that shark finning is in any way humane. The only way that we can save the oceans and keep the rest of the world from dying is if we save these important marine predators from extinction. We need to stop the killing of these pivotal apex predators just for a bowl of soup.
Please sign this petition and then share it with your friends and family this barbaric practice needs to end now!