Stop Shark Finning: Save the Sharks

The Brutal Practice of Shark Finning

Danger swims in the ocean. But it also floats on its surface. Sharks have inhabited the Earth's seas since the time of the dinosaurs. Yet a disturbing practice threatens their continued survival. Shark finning is a brutal exercise that destroys the entire animal just for the privilege of its fin.

I want to warn you right now. There are disturbing photos and videos in this article. The most graphic shark finning pictures are within a slideshow below (with a benign image to start). I share this information in the belief that there can be no sugar-coating of the issue.

Efforts to save the sharks will continue to be thwarted if shark finning is not stopped. Fortunately, organizations and education/outreach are helping to bring this practice to light.

Even if you don't love sharks - yes, even if you fear them - they are an integral, important piece to the ocean eco-system. We cannot stand by and allow them to be slaughtered unnecessarily.

Are you ready to explore shark finning further? Let's dive in right now...

Save the sharks and help stop shark finning
Save the sharks and help stop shark finning | Source

What is Shark Finning?

Over 100 million sharks are killed annually for their fins. You might think that the practice is similar to fishing, but that's incorrect. Fins are cut off and the sharks are often thrown back into the ocean.

Experts believe that the sharks suffer for days, before they finally die as a result. The shark is usually alive when it is tossed back into the water. Unable to swim, the shark slowly sinks toward the bottom where it is eaten alive by other fish, or they drown (if they are not in constant movement their gills cannot extract oxygen from the water).

Why the barbaric practice? Shark finning takes place at sea so the fishers have only the fins to transport. Shark meat is considered low value and therefore not worth the cost of transporting the bulky shark bodies to market. The practice has resulted in some shark species being categorized as endangered. According to Wikipedia:

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (C.I.T.E.S.) has put the great white shark on its 'Appendix II' list of endangered species. The shark is targeted by fishermen for its jaws, teeth, and fins, and as a game fish. The great white shark, however, is rarely an object of commercial fishing, although its flesh is considered valuable.

Sharks are one of the oldest animals on earth
Sharks are one of the oldest animals on earth | Source

Why Should You Care about Saving the Sharks?

Why should we care about saving the sharks?

  • Sharks have inhabited the Earth's water for 400 million years. Many date back to the age of the dinosaurs. You are probably best familiar with the Great White Shark, or Hammerhead Sharks, but there are 375 different species of sharks, many of which are not aggressive at all.
  • Your chance of getting attacked by a shark is less than the probability you'll be struck by lightning. Shark attacks are highly publicized (much like airplane crashes), which skews public perception and fuels misunderstandings.
  • Did you know that sharks are highly intelligent? We all love videos of smart dolphins doing tricks. Many shark species can be trained like dolphins, as well.
  • Perhaps most importantly, sharks are vital to the ocean ecosystem. As their numbers decline, the entire balance of the marine environment will shift. We need sharks, just like we need other predators like lions, snakes and bears to keep prey in check.

Sadly, human greed and misperceptions about sharks now threaten this "lion of the ocean." Only 17 countries in the world ban shark finning. Much more can be done to stop the brutal practice.

What Can you Do to Help Save the Sharks?

You can help stop shark finning. It won't cost you very much time or money, either. Here are the simple steps you can take:

First, do not eat shark fin soup – and avoid restaurants that serve it. I must admit that I was shocked when I did a Google images search on "shark fins" and, at least 50% of the pictures were of shark fin soup. What is up with that??

Second, look into whether your country is one of the 17 that bans shark finning. If it is not, you should write to your government representative to urge them to adopt new laws prohibiting the practice. In addition, your country should prohibit the sale or import/export of shark fins. Consider taking part in a letter-writing campaign to the Secretary General of the United Nations to push for international bans to stop shark finning.

Third, lend your change, or your pen to dedicated websites that work to help 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. Make a pledge and make a difference!

If you want to effectively work on this issue, do not take a page from Hollywood. Jessica Alba's efforts to save sharks backfired recently after she put up shark posters in Oklahoma City, which was considered to be defamatory.

Beyond shark finning, other threats face these creatures and threaten their future survival. Some people slaughter sharks for their skin (leather goods), teeth and jaws (jewelry or other adornments) or cartilage (medicine or makeup).

Shark Finning is a Brutal Practice

Shark Finning Threatens Continued Survival of Shark Species

Since the 1970s the populations of several shark species have declined by over 95%. Yet, we cannot know the true impact of finning, due to the secretive nature of the practice.

Sadly, shark finning is widespread, unmanaged and unmonitored. And money speaks loudly, relative to environmental concerns. A single pound of dried shark fin can retail for $300 or more. This means that it is a multi-billion dollar industry.

If we allow shark finning to continue, within a decade we could see the loss of many species of sharks. The bottom line is that every country in the world that has a coastline must enact and enforce laws and regulations pertaining to fishing in their waters. Shark finning also violates the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and is contrary to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's International Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks.

We must speak for the sharks, and respect their long history on Earth which predates mankind's first appearance. Please, spread the word and be aware of the deadly shark finning practice.

Humans and sharks can co-exist
Humans and sharks can co-exist | Source

© 2009 Stephanie Hicks

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Comments 32 comments

creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thank you for your hub on shark fining, it really sad that people are so cold and heartless, when it comes down to animals. Great informative hub. thank you for sharing it. creativeone59


Philipo profile image

Philipo 6 years ago from Nigeria

Very nice hub. I wish to appeal to everyone out there to pass this message across. This killing must stop.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you creativeone59 and Philipo! It truly is shocking how people can behave so selfishly and in such an inhumane manner. Hopefully, more countries will enact shark finning bans and go after the offenders.


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 6 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C.

Great hub, I must admit I did not watch the video or look closely at the pics as I am known to wear my heart on my sleeve. My son has always been fascinated with sharks so I know quite a bit on the subject. I was even bitten by a baby once in San Diego. I will forward the link and/or info to everyone I know and if you were a newbie I'd nominate it. The one thing you don't mention is what ethnic group buys the majority of the fins and for what purpose?


Nancy's Niche profile image

Nancy's Niche 6 years ago from USA

Where has the value of life gone? To behave in this manner, for profit, one is capable of anything! A tragic article on the human epidemic, which is plaguing, sharks. Thanks for sharing this information with us.

http://www.visiondive.com/sites/protection/english...


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Carmen - thank you. I will look into your question about who is buying the majority of the fins. I do know from my research that shark fin soup is a delicacy for which many people will pay a great deal of money. Sad, sad.

Hi Nancy's Niche - thank you for your comments too. I cannot agree more. Stephanie


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 6 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C.

In the last 15 years shark fin soup has boomed in Asia. Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand are the main shark fin trading centres. Asian consumers are unaware of the cruelty and unsustainability of the shark fin trade. Increasingly on the high seas sharks are “finned” and the rest of their bodies, often still alive, are dumped at sea. Shark meat is often too low-value compared to the target species (e.g. tuna) so 95-99% of the shark is discarded to conserve hold space. Shark fin provides gelatinous bulk in shark fin soup, but it has no taste – the soup has to be flavoured with chicken or other stock. While a fisherman in India will earn only $6 per pound of shark fin, a bowl of soup can cost $100 in a Hong Kong restaurant.

Found at http://www.thailandlife.com followed by a backslash and the thing noted below that I can't include.


Jess Killmenow profile image

Jess Killmenow 6 years ago from Nowheresville, Eastern United States

Thank you for illuminating this vicious practice. All life should be respected.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

You wrote another thought provoking and exceptionally well-researched topic in which you believe in, Steph. Although I've never had Sharkfin soup, I never will, due to the way in which the shark fins are acquired as you have clearly and vividly pointed out. I'm the same way about veal.

Thanks for sharing this. You certainly are compassionate about animals.


Nemingha profile image

Nemingha 6 years ago

We go to space, even bomb the moon, but we know so little about sharks and other ocean creatures. It would be unforgivable if an entire species and eco-system were destroyed before we even know what we're doing.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Carmen - thank you so much for the follow up! Just shocking information, isn't it?

Jess - I appreciate your comment, and agree that we need to be better stewards of all life on this planet.

dohn, thank you! Yes, I definitely care a great deal about animals (growing up, I considered being a veterinarian)

Nemingha - what a great comment! Better to learn about and appreciate our precious gifts before we end up destroying them


Affordablefun profile image

Affordablefun 6 years ago from Welland, Ontario 10 minutes from Niagara Falls

Stephhicks

I have been a long time supporter of WWF. The slaughter of any animal like this I have never understood. Removing these Apex predators we are truly doing harm to our oceans at large & in the end ourselves. Unfortunately people never seem to realize their abuse and greed is this disastrous to themselves until it is too late. IE: entire species are gone for ever such as sharks, various Turtles,and the list continues.

My questions has always been the same when are we going to wake up. Stop talking and make global changes that are up held by all people? As people of this incredible planet we MUST come together to make real changes. At the same time NEVER loose site of the power of ONE. Yes each of us and stand saying NO!to these types of devastating practices.

Thanks for your posting and bringing this to peoples attention.

Respectfully

Geri Canimhart


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Geri - thank you for your thoughtful comment! Unfortunately there may not be enough people in the world that agree with you, me and the other people that have commented that we need to do more to protect these species and stop greedy, unnecessary slaughter. That's why we'll keep spreading the word and doing what we can. Take care, Stephanie


Enelle Lamb profile image

Enelle Lamb 6 years ago from Canada's 'California'

Unfortunately, another extremely important issue that needs to be brought to our attention! More ppl need to get on board and help our ecology before we have nothing left.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Enelle,

Yes - unfortunately there are many animals on the brink due to human activities. I appreciate you reading/commenting and spreading the word. We can do something to stop shark finning and save this important ocean predator.


cals5839 profile image

cals5839 6 years ago from Blaine, Wa

Hi Stephhicks68:

I think your Hub is fantastic and would like to add that the main reason so many sharks are killed each year, is the despicable fishing methods of the world's fishing fleets.

Most of the sharks caught and finned are just by-catch of tuna and swordfish fishermen. A total of 34,611 sharks were recorded as killed by U.S. longliners alone in the 2007 - 2008 fishing season, and that's peanuts compared with the Europeans, Japanese, Russians, Chinese, and others.

Did you know that swordfish and tuna longline ships set out 60 or more miles of fishing line with up to 2,800 baited hooks? They don't only catch fish and sharks, but turtles, albatros, seals, and whales as well.

But longlining isn't the worst fishing method. Driftnetting is far more destructive. Some of the open ocean nets extend for just as far as the longlines do - and go down 50 feet underwater to create invisible 'walls of death' that nothing swimming within the top 50-feet of the ocean can avoid. Some of these nets get lost in storms and continue to drift and kill everything in their paths until they become so loaded with carcasses that they sink to the bottom, where they continue to ensnare bottom-fish.

The U.S. has banned large drift nets, and don't allow anything longer than - get ready for it - one and a half miles! Aren't you proud to have such a bunch of bleeding hearts running our country?

Anyway, thanks for this great Hub. I invite you to visit my hub often too, for more on the state of the oceans. http://hubpages.com/education/Passive-Predators


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Wow - thanks for all the great info, cals5839! I have also read and written about the drift nets. Such a shame. 1.5 miles? Seriously....


LRobbins profile image

LRobbins 6 years ago from Germany

Very informative hub and well written. Thanks for higlighting this urgent issue. I've dived with sharks, seen how awe-inspiring they are in their natural habitat and can't believe that the barbaric practise of shark finning is occuring.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi LRobbins, how wonderful that you've seen sharks up close. Thank you for lending your voice to this urgent issue! Stephanie


speciesguy profile image

speciesguy 6 years ago

stephhicks68:

Thanks for taking the time to write this article about sharks. I too am all over this topic. Think about it, they are like the representatives of our planet. We should be taking them to dinner. I just started this hub journey, and I thank you so much for taking the time to write this.

The President gives a hoot about what we think, so everyone send a physical letter to him about sharks. A cool thing recently is the President of Palua declared 263 thousand miles around their island a shark sanctuary. Together, we can end this practice. You go stephhicks.


ninnie18 profile image

ninnie18 6 years ago

they should stop shark finning, because it is killing all of the beautiful sharks!!!!!!!!!!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you for adding your comment ninnie18 - the more people that are aware and spread the word about shark finning, the more hope we have in stopping this terrible practice!


Marianne 6 years ago

I watched just 3 seconds of "60 Seconds" yesterday about finning. Never heard of it before last night. How utterably horrible, ignorant, mean and cruel! While I don't condone ANY of it, I don't understand why the butchers cannot humanely kill the animal first?? Are they too lazy, or just totally ignorant of animals' physical pain? Perhaps the butchers should envision having their arms and legs cut off and left floating in a shallow pool where they can breathe ... a bit ... until they die painfully. I believe in God. And I believe that what goes around, comes around. It may not be here on Earth (but it would be great if it could!) but it will be in the hereafter. God Bless our animals and our children.


the fix 5 years ago

So glad you used your great writing and research skills to create this hub. This topic is near to my heart since I am a huge fan of Sharks. I will add that it is important to protect these creatures because we don't know very much about them and therefore we don't know how they fit into our tenuous ecosystem. We need to protect and learn more from these awesome creatures.

I donate to oceana to help with this cause. You can sign their petition here: http://act.oceana.org/cms/letter/l-sharkfinning

You can also adopt a shark here; https://oceana.democracyinaction.org/o/209/t/7423/...


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi the fix,

Awesome - and thank you for posting the links! I have signed the petition and will be adopting a shark.

Sharks are very important - one of the oldest living creatures on the planet. Thanks for sharing the passion and helping other readers of this hub. Cheers, Steph


Ruth 5 years ago

dios mio, es un problema mundial...tenemos que concienciarnos todos... DESDE ESPAÑA APOYO ABSOLUTO

NO FINNING


swagger101 4 years ago

awesome hub. iam doin a project on shark finning and it is really cruel.


cara 4 years ago

that is terrable!!


Jeff008 4 years ago

Yes shark finning is a very very very cruel practice. Help save them, they play an important role being apex predator. They help to maintain ocean ecosystems. Save the sharks, they don't belong to specific nation / people. They belongs to all of us.


Karine Gordineer profile image

Karine Gordineer 4 years ago from Upstate New York

Stephanie - this is really a great hub. Well written, well researched and your passion for these animals truly comes through in your writing. I agree that we need to stop this needless and cruel practice.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Karine - it is quite sad to learn about the brutal practice of shark finning. I appreciate your comment - all the best, Steph


michael 3 years ago

please save them from dying.god created these sharks for a purpose.we should respect them and stop killing them.they are not bothering us so we dont bother them

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