Monday, November 15, 2010

A Serious Issue

Hey my friends. In school, I have been writing papers on a serious issue that has strong emotions on my part. This issue is shark finning. This is a serious problem and most people don't even know about it. Most people are like, "Sharks they are scary and we should kill them or not bother." Well that is where you are wrong.
To start off, more people are killed by being crushed by vendimachines than by sharks (true fact). And sharks are very important in our ocean ecosystems. Sharks are an apex predator, meaning that they influence every creature below them. Without sharks eating fish, the fish will eat all the plankton, which are the bottom of the food chain. Without the plankton, there will be no more food for the fish. Also, plankton use photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen for people to breath. Without sharks, the ecosystem of the ocean will breakdown.

In Asia, shark fin soup is a huge delicacy that people will pay up the butt for. Shark fins only go into texturizing soup and imparts no flavor or anything. In 2001, 176,369,810 pounds of shark fin were on the market. Can you imagine how many sharks that is? That was only in 2001, I'm pretty sure that number is way up now. A lot of these fins come from third world countries that don't have a lot of money. They know that Asians with pay $800 US a pound for shark fins.
This is hard on sharks because sharks can't recover from loses like that. Sharks are like humans, they don't become sexually mature until ages 10-20 (depending on species), they only have approximately 2 offspring at a time, and the offspring stay in their mother's womb for about 6 months to a year (depending on species). Most of the sharks that are caught are not sexually mature and they haven't had any offspring. This would be like someone killing millions of teenagers and young children every year. If you do the math on that with 6 billion people in the world and every year 10 million kids are killed. That would take 600 years to kill off the population. And that is not taking in to account the people that die of old age or accidents or anything of that matter. And the numbers on the sharks are going up.

Well now that you know the statistics of it, let me tell you about what happens to these sharks. Boats will go out and deploy longlines. Longlines are just like they sound. Huge fishing lines with thousands of hooks on them. Not only do these lines catch sharks, but they catch fish, dolphins, turtles, birds, and whales. Most of these animals are air breathers and when attached to the lines, they can't surface to breath and they slowly drown. The fish will get tangled up and they wont be able to get water in their gills and they will drown and die. When they pull the sharks out of the water, if they are not dead yet, their fins will get cut off and they are tossed in the water. There the sharks will slowly bleed to death over the next 3 days. Same goes with the other animals, turtles and dolfins will be killed when they are caught and just thrown overboard.

There is a ban on shark finning in the US and some other countries like Australia, Canada, Mexico, and places that are sympathetic with the US. But in third world countries and Asian countries, they fight to keep it legal. They are not about to give up their food and source of income. There has also been bans on longlining and drift nets (another way to catch lots of aquatic animals), but not in enough places.
Creating awareness is one way to help (hence this post) and there are other ways you can help. At an individual level we could take the following precautions: Never have shark-fin soup and refuse to patronize
restaurants that serve this. Avoid medicines or supplements that profess to utilizing the healing power of shark cartilage or any other part of a shark. Do not buy shark teeth (unless fossilized), shark jaws, or any items made with shark skin. Please love our sharks. They are not scary. If you think sharks are scary, watch Shark Week on Discovery Channel; it's usually on the last week of July or the first week of August. Love sharks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Or else...)

Stewart, Rob, producer and director. 2008. Sharkwater (Documentary). Alliance Films Inc. (Montreal, Quebec, Canada). DVD. 89 min.

Verlecar X.N., Snigdha, S. R. Desai and V. K. Dhargalkar. Shark Hunting- An Indiscriminate Trade Endangering Elasmobranchs to Extinction. Current Science 92: 1078-1082.


  1. I think I've read or heard you saying something about this issue before, but my opinion holds the same:

    This is just sad that such awesome creatures of ocean are killed like this. I have a lot of respect for animals in general, and I happen to respect the ocean and all the amazing life below its surface. It's things like this that make me wonder how humanity can be so cruel. I honestly don't get it. I've tried to figure it out with no results other than anger.

    I believe God provided certain animals on this earth for the benefit of humans as a food source, like cows. But I'm not saying that is a cow's only purpose in life or part in an ecosystem, it's just one of the many purposes animals like that serve. And I'm not justifying or supporting the horrible life conditions of some livestock. Even though you're going to kill the animal for meat, there are better ways to keep the livestock and provide for them than some ways those animals are kept. But yes, there are animals that are meant to be eaten. However, I've never believed sharks to be one of those animals.

    Sharks are not meant to be eaten in my opinion, rather they are meant to carry out their lives balancing out the ocean's ecosystems through the food chain (like you mentioned above). And like I said, the way sharks and many other animals are killed on these long lines is sad.

    I am with you on this issue, and I’ll make sure that I won’t support restaurants or other products that condone shark finning.

  2. You have a really good point airy-ka. I agree with most of that. Thanks for the comment.

  3. You're welcome! :) Ya know, I think it's kinda funny how our blog usernames are almost like nicknames or something...