Shark Finning – What can we do?

As a Scuba Diver I love to see even the smallest underwater creatures and although Nudibranchs, Hermit Crabs and Starfish are fun to discover there is nothing quite like the thrill of seeing a Shark gliding by – silent, powerful and majestic.

I also like seafood and my motto is ‘if you cannot hunt & gather it yourself then don’t eat it’. When I catch and kill a fish and I will do it quickly, painlessly and respectfully for the critter that is about to be my dinner. This is a long way from what the fishing industry is doing on in our oceans all around the world.

Shark meat has little value commercially however shark fins are another story – highly valuable as the signature ingredient in Sharks Fin Soup. Apparently the sharks fins don’t add much to the flavour of the soup but they do add to the prestige of any occasion since, other than restaurants, it is usually served at banquets and weddings. How many of those who eat sharks fin soup would go and get their own fins?

The harvesting of the fins, known as shark finning, is reportedly quite barbaric with the fins being cut from the often live shark and the bodies thrown back into the sea. The shark dies by slow suffocation (since it now cannot swim normally and sharks need constant movement of water over their gills to breathe) or by being eaten.

This is an atrocity for all the sharks left to die and it may lead to a problems with our oceans ecosystems if sharks are hunted to extinction. Sharks being the top of the food chain therefore moderate the numbers of species below them and ensure the health of the underwater gene pool.

Some shark specialists estimate that anywhere between 38-100 million sharks are killed for their fins annually, others report 10-100 million. Even if we take the lower estimates this is a LOT of sharks every year especially as they only reproduce in small litters and the pups are slow to grow.

Today I joined the Facebook group ‘The Global Shark Initiative’ and put my name against the practise of shark finning. The group will let me know about bills, initiatives and petitions. They also have contact details and set letters so that with a few clicks I can cut, paste and send out to governments worldwide adding my voice to do some good for the sharks.

What are you going to do?

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