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Saving Sharks from People Attacks

Updated on December 3, 2012

Sharks are being wiped out.

Many of the almost 400 species of shark are endangered, and 15 of then are critically endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

Sharks are being, not just attacked, but slaughtered by people who see them as nothing more than a good day's pay.

It's not even as if anyone actually wants the shark meat. It is worth nothing on the markets and takes up a lot of space on a boat.

Shark fins, on the other hand, are highly sought after, being the main ingredient in shark's fin soup, which is an Asian status symbol.

Once eaten only by emperors, shark's fin soup has grown in popularity at the same pace as prosperity in China, Hong Kong and Japan has risen.

White Fins i.e.sandbar and hammerhead

This group have three fins, 2 dorsals and a caudal

Black Fins - i.e. mako and blue shark

This group have 4 fins, 2 pectoral, 1 dorsal and 1 caudal.

Some sharks also have an anal fin.

The white fin group are more sought after as they are believed to have greater flavour and more needles.

Shark Finning

Sharks have thus become highly prized by fishermen the world over.

A single shark accidentally caught in a drift net is worth as much as the whole fish catch put together.

Rather than simply freeing it, fishermen will haul the shark onboard, steal its fins, and then the shark is thrown back overboard, to sink to the floor of the ocean and drown, unable to swim away without it's fins.

Depending on the shark species, the fins are of different color and value.

The white fins are the most sought after and from those sharks, the first and second dorsal fins and the caudal fin are taken.

Sharks with black fins are worth only a third to a quarter of the white fins, but the poor black finned sharks lose not only their dorsal and caudal fins, but their pectoral fins too.

Sharks in trouble

If you have have watched the video above you will have a greater understanding of the problem.

An incredible 73,000,000 sharks are killed annually to feed the Chinese hunger for the delicacy that displays their wealth.

No-one can accuse China of being underpopulated. It is the most highly populated country in the world with a massive population of 1,339,724,852 people!

As their economic position continues to strengthen, and shark numbers decline, paradoxically the sharks fin become even more attractive as their price rises yet further. Only the very richest will be able to afford it, once again.

That will not help the poor shark which is being finned out of existence.

Juvenile dusky shark
Juvenile dusky shark

Why shark numbers are declining drastically

In a lot of ways, sharks, the undoubted kings of the oceans, are like man.

They mature relatively late - most female sharks don't mature enough to reproduce until they are 12 - 16 years old. Male sharks must wait until they are 20.

Many of the smaller sharks being fished out of the oceans are still children, and will never mature and produce offspring.

Each mother shark gives birth to live young, in maximum litters of up to 7 pups, more commonly only 1 or 2, and reproduce every 3 years on average. (until I suppose, she hits the menopause and takes up knitting or something - nobody seems to have studied that angle).

Some species of shark can live to 100 years old.

When you read about someone catching and killing a 'huge' shark, the chances are it is even older than the fisherman hauling it in.

Because of the shark's slow breeding habit, it is perfectly understandable that their numbers are now declining rapidly and they face the prospect of disappearing all together.

Saving the sharks

Many countries have brought in legislation barring the barbaric practice of finning sharks at sea and throwing them overboard to die a slow painful death.

Instead they must return the whole shark to harbour.

Unfortunately this legislation is not fully enforced and many fishermen simply do not comply.

The world's public opinion is now turning against the serving of shark's fin soup. It is not only in Asia, but served in Chinese and Hong Kong restaurants the world over.

We must educate others and make everyone aware of this atrocity that is going on.

In a recent survey held in China, 24% of respondents did not realise that shark's fin soup is made from real shark fins!

Only when man stops eating shark fin soup, can we see a return to normal for our world's sharks.

If there is no market, the fishermen will not catch and fin sharks, and the ecological balance of the seas will be maintained.

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