Shark finning is the act of hauling a shark on board a fishing vessel and slicing the fin(s) off the animal while it is still alive. The fins are sold to restaurants for use in “shark fin soup”.
Sharks around the world are now being plundered without regulation, and are estimated to have suffered a reduction in population of 90-99%, depending on the species of shark. The killing is almost entirely done to provide fins for the multi-billion dollar shark fin trade, and although difficult to determine precisely, most experts agree that 80 to 200 million sharks are killed each year for their fins.
The sharks are usually caught on a long-line (a nylon line that can be dozens of miles long with thousands of baited hooks). The animals are hauled up on deck, where their fins are sliced off with a knife. The mutilated animal is then dumped back into the ocean to bleed to death and drown, or to be eaten alive by other fish.
Any shark will be taken- regardless of age, size, or species.
Shark finning is unregulated, unmanaged and not monitored by any agency. The practice has increased astronomically over the past decade due to the increasing demand for shark fins, and improved fishing technology. Although the majority of shark fins are consumed in Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong), many restaurants in North America and Europe continue to sell shark fin soup. One pound of dried shark fin can retail for $300 or more. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and many shark finners actually think they are doing humanity a favor by ridding the seas of an animal that most believe is vicious, but is actually very shy and wants nothing more than to avoid humans.
Shark finning is vicious and cruel and wrong! and must be stopped. Sharks are by far the most dominant predator in the ocean, and have existed there for several hundred million years. Now thay are at risk of total global extinction. If they disappear, the ecology of the ocean will be enormously disrupted, and could collapse entirely. This would have catastrophic consequences for all of humanity.
Websites about sharks and shark finning:
- Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
- Shark Trust
- Shark Project
- The Florida Museum of Natural History/ American Elasmobranch Society/ International Shark Attack File
- ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research
IUCN Shark Specialist Group. “IUCN Information Paper. Shark Finning.” 2003.
IUCN Shark Specialist Group. “Shark Specialist Group Finning Statement.”
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society – www.seashepherd.org. “Longline Fishing.”
WildAid & Co-Habitat. “Shark Finning.” September 2003.