Technology.am (Dec. 06, 2009) All through most of Asia, the Chinese delicacy of shark fin soup is extensively known as a status symbol of the well-off. Typically only found only at special occasions – for example weddings or banquets – it is an item of such luxury that it is repeatedly served to significant guests as a means of bestowing them great respect.
To provide an idea of the high costs involved, scalloped hammerhead fins are amongst the most greatly sought after as they assist to create a principally thick, gelatinous soup. In the Asian market place just 1 kg of these coveted fins can trade for to the extent of $120.00.
Regrettably, the finest prices commanded by shark fins have fuelled a global shark hunt of epic proportions. Study has shown that up to 73,000,000 sharks are killed per annum to provide the fin markets, placing the future continued existence of many shark species in uncertainty. Additional research from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada has too shown that shark populations in addition to populations of all large predators in the world’s oceans – have dropped a projected 90 per cent in the preceding 30 years. Some species of shark, such as the tiger, bull and dusky shark have dropped by over 95 per cent.
Unfortunately, additional debate hangs over the practice of shark fishing, chiefly because shark bodies have little, considerable value. This has caused lots of fishermen to make use of the practice known as ‘finning’. This is where the fins are cut away from the shark’s body whilst the remnant of the fish – which is frequently still alive – is thrown back into the sea. Once back in the ocean, the finless shark is not capable to swim and sinks to the ocean bottom to die, a slow and exceedingly agonizing death.
Animal rights activists and environmentalists have called the practice cruel, and have in addition named it as a chief contributing factor in the international decline of many shark species.
Hong Kong is accountable for managing anyplace between 50% and possibly up to 80% of the world’s trade in shark fins. Of that number 21% of fins were found to have originated in waters off of coastlines of the United States, Belize, Panama and Brazil. Astonishingly, these are areas where the shark has been categorized as rare by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature!
But it is not just the Americas that are helping to fuel this enormous market, a third of all fins imported to Hong Kong come from Europe with Spain by far the major supplier. Of course they are not alone with Norway Britain, France, Portugal and Italy all making key contributions to this barbaric trade. Currently there are just a couple of dozen countries, including those in the EU, which have debarred the practice of shark finning – and generally in just the last five years.
In 2004 was the first fish was placed under the protection of the ‘Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species’ (CITES). Today there are at least some species of sharks listed on CITES such as the Great White and some of the Basking sharks.
By systematically removing the top predator from every ocean we’re destroying the balance of the world’s most important ecosystem, one that is vital for our own survival – hopefully we are not too late. Just as awareness and education has help to bring back many whale species from the brink of extinctions, hopefully shark populations can also be saved. We lose them at out own peril!