Shark finning is a deadly practice that is threatening some of the oldest species on Earth. Each year, 100 million sharks are killed for their fins. And its not a quick or painless death. Some estimate that sharks suffer for days before finally dying as a result of this cruel slaughter.
While it may be hard for some people to get behind preservation efforts for what many believe to be a deadly predator (ever seen the movie “Jaws”?), in fact there are 375 different species of sharks, some of which are not aggressive at all. In addition, many shark species are intelligent and can even be trained like dolphins. Perhaps most importantly, however, is the fact that sharks are vital to the ocean ecosystem. As their numbers decline, the entire balance of the marine environment will shift.
After surviving 400 million years on Earth, it hardly seems fair that sharks now should be wiped out by human greed and misperceptions. Did you know that you have a greater chance of getting struck by lightning than suffering a shark bite? Much like airplane crashes, shark attacks are widely publicized, fueling fear and misunderstanding of the true risks.
We need sharks, just like we need other predators like lions, snakes and bears to keep prey in check.
Shark fining is not the only threat to the sharks. Some use the skin for leather goods, teeth and jaws for jewelry or other adornments. Shark cartilage is also highly valued for medicinal or makeup purposes. But overall, the reason for such extreme numbers of sharks being killed each year is the demand for Shark Fin Soup, which carries a high price tag (and profit margin for the restaurants) in some Asian countries.
You can stop shark finning! There are a few simple things you can do to save the sharks.
First, do not eat shark fin soup – and avoid any restaurants that serve it.
Second, find out whether your country is one of the 17 that bans shark finning. If not, write your government representative to urge them to adopt new laws prohibiting the practice. Also demand that your country not permit the sale or import/export of shark fins. For additional support, you can take part in a letter-writing campaign to the Secretary General of the United Nations to push for international bans to stop shark finning.
Third, there are a number of dedicated websites at which you can obtain additional information or sign petitions to save the sharks. Check out seashepard.org, oceana.org, wildaid.com, sharkwater.com and care2.com. Sign a petition and pass it along to your friends and family. Don’t elect to just stand-by while the slaughter needlessly continues.
Not convinced yet that we need to save the sharks? Watch this last clip from Sharkwater and then let me know what you think: