Shark finning does not mean removing the fins from a shark.
WHAT IS SHARK FINNING?
the official definition of shark finning is...
"Removing the fins from a shark while still on the fishing vessel and dumping the rest of the shark overboard." Not only is this practice incredibly wasteful (less than 10% of the weight of a shark is used) but it is cruel as the sharks are still alive when they are thrown back into the ocean where the animals bleed to death, are eaten alive, and drown. Most sharks need to be constantly moving in order to breathe through a process called ram ventilation. Without their fins this is not possible.
note: shark finning still legal in parts of the world but most developed nations have outlawed it. however, it is still ILLEGALLY practiced in MANY countries.
what shark finning is not...
1. If a shark is brought to shore (on land) with the fins attached and then has the fins cut off, this is not shark finning.
2. If the shark is brought to shore (land) without fins attached, this shark has not been finned.
why is it important to make the distinction between shark finning vs non shark finning?
A recent study showed that nearly all shark scientists and natural resource managers are opposed to inhumane practice of finning. However, many people began complaining that these same people did not support “fin ban” legislation trying to be implemented in many areas worldwide. This legislation makes it illegal to buy, sell, or possess shark fins - even if they were caught based on science-based fishing quotas, there are no threatened species being caught, monitoring and reporting is enforced and accurate, there are bycatch mitigation strategies in place, etc. The best shark fishery management strategies are comprehensive in that they address all issues (including finning) and allows for well-managed fisheries to buy and sell sustainable fins.
shark finning is not sustainable.
it can also help contribute to climate change!
shark finning is the reason why many shark species have become endangered, such as hammerheads. shark fisheries have declined shark populations by 60-70%1. in fact, only about 6-7 people are annually killed by sharks around the world... but AN ESTIMATED 100 MILLION TO AS MANY AS 273 MILLION sharks are killed by humans every year2.
Shark fins are in high demand particularly for those selling shark fin soup, a dish that is a status symbol for most Asian cultures.
Some people believe that they will absorb the powers of a shark by eating their fins since sharks have been living and evolving on this planet longer than trees have. Some believe that the shark fin has medicinal properties because it is made of cartilage.
The myth that sharks cannot get cancer is the main reason that people believe this. However, cartilage cannot be absorbed by the human body and has no nutritional value. In fact sharks can carry high amounts of mercury, so consuming shark meat can actually be harmful for humans.
what can we do?
How unsustainable and cruel shark finning is has led many scientists, conservationists, and shark advocates to take up arms against the largely illegal practice.
We can support well-managed fisheries in buying and selling legally and sustainably obtained fins. For those restaurants or organisations that buy their fins illegally, we can protest and take to social media. Talk to your local representatives to pass laws and hold those doing this practice illegally accountable!
There are many people fighting for sharks in the fight against illegal shark finning. The most notable of these people was the late Rob Stewart, known for his film Shark Water and his book Save the Humans. Unfortunately, Rob has passed away leaving individuals like you and I to pick up where he left off.
For more information about shark finning, Rob Stewart, and what you can do to help check out the information in 1, 2, and 3.
INFORMATION BROUGHT TO YOU BY TFUI OFFICER JADEANN HEMBERGER.