Thursday, 9 June 2011
More than 73 million sharks are killed each year
Fishermen catch the sharks and hack off their fins before tossing them overboard. Sharks need to be constantly moving so their gills can extract oxygen from the water. Without their fins, they sink to the ocean floor where they starve to death, drown or are eaten alive by other fish.
A fisherman who kills sharks and sells their fins can make $US700 per kilogram.
The fins are in huge demand from restaurants, particularly in Hong Kong and mainland China, where they are mostly used in gourmet Chinese soups*.
Global Shark Conservation at the Pew Environment Group (PEG) claims that "finning" is responsible for a 90 per cent decline in some shark species.
The group recently reported that 30 per cent of all shark species are immediately threatened or near threatened with extinction.
The thing is, without sharks we're stuffed. The website http://www.stopsharkfinning.net/ says if sharks disappear "all hell with break loose". It explains that the large shark species are "apex" predators and "ecological stabilisers". For example, on the USA east coast the elimination of several large shark species has led to the proliferation of smaller sharks, rays and skate. These smaller fish have devoured the shellfish population. The role of shellfish is to filter the water, but now they're gone water quality has been seriously damaged.
"Once you remove apex predators from an ecosystem the result is the same as removing foundations from a building - total collapse," says Stop Shark Finning.
I know we're all torn between supporting numerous causes and the shark isn't the first creature that comes to mind when considering how to help the environment.
*However, you can make a small difference by BOYCOTTING restaurants where shark fin soup is served and by passing this information on to your friends. AUSTRALIA IS INDIRECTLY INVOLVED IN FINNING BY ALLOWING RESTAURANTS TO SERVE SHARK FIN SOUP. Go to this link for a list of restaurants in Australia that serve shark fin soup: