Shark finning is the process of cutting off shark fins. This practice is regarded as cruel because it takes place while the shark is still alive and after the shark finning process, the sharks are sometimes tossed back in the ocean, and without their fins, they cannot swim efficiently. This inability to swim makes them sink to the bottom of the sea die of suffocation or get eaten by other fish. The sharks take days to die off which is a horrible death to such a beautiful animal. The process takes place at sea and, the fishers only carry the fins because shark meat is way too bulky and it is considered to have a low economic value. The anglers target every type of sharks regardless of its size and age.
Shark Finning Trade
Over the past few years, the shark finning trade has increased tremendously due to the rise in demand for shark fins which are mostly used to make shark fin soup and also traditional medicine. The business has also increased due to the improvement in technology which has led to the production of better equipment and better market economics. This perhaps is further promoted by the fact that trade is unmonitored and is not being managed which threatens the shark population worldwide.
Shark finning is such a lucrative trade that it was estimated to be worth between USD 500 million to USD 1.2 billion back in 2007. One kilogram of shark fins is said to be worth USD 400 making them one of the most expensive seafood. Due to some laws put up in various places in the United States banning the practice, some species like the whale shark and the basking sharks are considered to be very precious, and a single fin can cost between USD 10,000 to USD 20,000.
Uses Of Shark Fins
Shark fins are mainly used to make shark fin soup which is considered to be an Asian delicacy. This explains why the Chinese and other Far East nations are known to be the highest importers of the shark fins to make the soup which can be worth about USD 100 per bowl often served during weddings. Shark fins by themselves are utterly tasteless but provide the jelly-like component of the soup which is flavored with other stock like chicken.
Effects Of Shark Finning
The most obvious impact is that the shark population has been decreasing immensely. According to reports, over hundred million sharks go through finning annually, and this leads to their eventual death. On the lower side, about 8,000 tonnes of shark fins are being transported all over the world every year. Some of the sharks are also finned while they are still young and this inhibits their growth as they cannot reproduce.
Sharks also tend to mature slowly and therefore they reproduce at a slow rate which makes them very susceptible to overfishing. Statistics show that the shark populations have reduced by eighty percent in the past five decades.
The process affects not only the shark population but also the ecosystem at large. This is because sharks are apex predators and therefore play a crucial role in the marine system (ecological stability). Due to decreasing shark population, shellfish numbers have dwindled. Shellfish purify water. Thus, their reduced number has lead to reduced water quality. The number of small sharks has also increased which consumes the shellfish at an alarming rate.
Sharks like the requiem sharks, hammerhead sharks, basking sharks, and whale sharks are among the 39 types of sharks that have been listed as being the most endangered species.
Laws And Regulations
Several bills have been put up by various countries with some saying that fins must have a five percent weight ratio of the dead shark. Only a few states demand that the sharks must be availed at the port while their fins are still intact. Back in 2013, 27 countries and the European Union made shark finning illegal. The practice violates the United Nations Convention on the Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).
It is therefore essential to work towards banning the practices all together which threatens our natural environment. Conserving nature for posterity is vital.