From Finning to Shark Fin Soup

Sylvie Leochko

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For centuries, and even in several countries nowadays, sharks are considered as useless fish so shark finning was or still is not considered to be a big issue for them. The truth of the matter is that such cruelty is responsible for endangering species, being a good example of animal cruelty and affects the natural equilibrium of the ecological system. And these are only some of the problems related to sharks.

Did you know that while about 56 people’s lives are taken during shark attacks on a yearly basis, during the same period; 100 million sharks are killed in the name of shark fin soup? While the tragedies endured by families and the horror of the shark attack on the victim are horrible and you pray that nobody ever go through such a horrific ordeal, humans tend to forget the cruelty they force on these predators themselves. In fact, while most shark attacks are due to confusion with preys such as seals, the finning and fishing of sharks are far from being caused by confusion. In fact, they hunt them on purpose.

What is shark finning? Well, to be honest, if it involved using the whole carcass of a shark by simply cutting it out so most body parts could be commercially used, that would be one thing but the matter of a fact, it is much worst. You see, while finning techniques vary according to the regulations imposed by various countries. While Australia, United States of America, New Zealand and Mexico are banning shark finning, most other countries permitted either by imposing a series of regulations or not regulating it at all in which case the fate of the poor animal is worst then sudden death.

In countries such as in Indonesia, no regulations affect shark finning and fishing, which will allow fishermen to use a wasteful practice of shark finning by allowing them to catch a shark, fin it while it is still alive than throw its finless body overboard, sometimes even tying a heavy load of coral to ensure that it will sink not to be seen. Then, the poor animal tries to swim in vain, eventually drowning, bleed to death or being attacked by other predators. In either case, sudden death would have been a blessing to them compared to that unspeakable suffering and dragging waiting period that has no hope to offer the poor victim.

In other countries such as South Africa, shark fins must be attached to the carcasses. In Brazil, shark fins and carcasses may be landed separately but the shark fins may not exceed 5% of the whole body weight.

Another problem of shark finning is that it is not selective, which is responsible for endangering shark species such as the great white and is gradually affecting the main species targeted for finning, which are: the longfin mako, the shortfin mako, the porbeagle, the dusky, the silky and the blue sharks.

While DNA samples can be used to identify most species victim of finning, even if they were directly taken from the bowl of a shark fin soup, this process is very expensive and seldom practiced as a result of this factor.

Several countries will ask brides and grooms not to serve shark fin soup at their wedding and will even provide their guests with written facts on finning to explain the absence of this culinary delicacy on their menu. The same is done for business dinners as serving shark fin soup is a sign of affluence and sophistication. It is comparable to the use of caviar by their Western neighbors.

Why was shark finning used in several Eastern Asian countries? Well, the major cause of its use then and nowadays is mainly: profit. You see, each pound of shark meat can earn from pennies to a few dollars to fishermen, while shark fins can be worth as much as $200 a pound. And for restaurants serving this culinary delicacy, which is not only available at wedding and important business dinners but also to the public, their patrons will pay as much as $100 a bowl. Now you do the math!

Now that cartilage is also in demand, not only for shark fin soup but also for cartilage pills which supposedly has the power of healing cancer, which has not been proven yet, you understand that the demand for shark finning is rising even more.

Let’s help protect shark species and their future as it becomes more precarious everyday. After all, by finning sharks, their future is affected in another way. You see, sharks have a low reproductive level. If you take the sandbar sharks, they do not become mature before 13 years old and they deliver a litter of 10 pups every year. The sand tigers will reach their maturity at 12 years old and produce a litter of twins only every other year. And dusky sharks reach their maturity between 20 and 25 years old and produce small litters every 3 years. As you can see, these poor animals cannot meet both the demand of shark fins and the survival of their specie.

This is why I think people must help sharks by protecting them and banning shark finning much like Mexico and New Zealand did recently. Let’s say no to finning by refusing to eat shark fin soup, traditions or no traditions, their survival is at stake and with that, the balance of their ecological system.

My name is Sylvie Leochko. I respect sharks and for this reason, I enjoy sharing any information and facts related to sharks. If you wish to learn more about them, I encourage you to visit the following site:


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