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  • Saskia Müller

How does shark finning affect us?

Did you know 73 million sharks are killed every year due to shark finning? [1]

Shark finning [2] is the action of slicing off the shark’s fins and throwing the remainder of its body into the ocean where it will take days to die from suffocation. This entails substantial profits, often to make shark fin soup.


This soup can cost anywhere between £50 and £400. [3] It has next to no taste and contains elevated amounts of methyl mercury. It is principally utilised amid occasions, for example, weddings or conferences, yet is viewed as a delicacy to numerous individuals and has turned out to be exceptionally well known throughout the years.



Any shark is taken; regardless of age, size or species. The longlines used in shark finning operations are the most significant cause of losses in shark populations worldwide. Longlines [4] are indiscriminate and also kill sea turtles, dolphins and any other species of marine wildlife they catch.


Sharks can take up to seven years to achieve development and just have around a couple of “puppies” every year, not at all like fish, who can lay a great number of eggs at any given moment. This is one of the main reasons why sharks are becoming endangered.


Shark population has gone down a critical sum throughout the years. For instance: since 1972 Blacktip sharks have fallen by 93%, Tiger sharks by 97%, and Bull, Dusky and Hammerhead sharks by 99% all because of shark finning. [5]


[6] While sharks may often get bad press, they and their ray cousins support the health of oceans and coastal communities, according to researchers. Losing these apex predators disrupts marine food webs and threatens the sustainability of global fisheries.

Sharks are the seas top predator, without them the harmony among predator and prey will turn out to be extremely unsteady. [7] Sharks help clean the sea of ill or dying fish, keeping them from infecting other fish and possibly killing them off. While other fish, for example, octopuses will move toward becoming overpopulated making the number of lobster decrease tremendously.


We are now observing a case of what will occur if sharks end up extinct alongside the US East Coast. There is a decrease in shellfish causing water quality to wind up worse because of the absence of huge sharks, for example, black tip and tiger sharks. These sharks go after other little sharks, beams, and skates which eat a substantial number of scallops and other kinds of shellfish that clean the sea. [8] People do not think of the benefits sharks provide, they consider them to be vicious killers. However, sharks only harm around 16 individuals each year while only 2 every 2 years are fatal while people kill a large number of sharks every year putting the balance of marine life in danger.


It is undeniable that the current rate of biodiversity loss is several orders of magnitude higher than the background historic extinction rate, leading to a biodiversity crisis. [9] And, while many people now know that we have a decade to stop climate change, far fewer realise we also only have a decade to reverse biodiversity loss. [10]


For sharks and rays, enforcing existing fishing regulations and setting new limits on landings could go a long way to help them rebound. In fact, it has been done before.


The white shark is one of the best success stories for U.S. shark conservation. In response to dramatic declines in the 1990s, a retention ban was placed on the species, allowing populations to slowly recover. [11]


In July 2021, the International Commission for Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) voted on a shortfin mako retention ban, which has the potential to change the future for this overexploited, endangered shark. [12]


The road to effective policy change may seem daunting. But meaningful steps can start at the individual level.


By voicing concern, through letters to lawmakers and news editors, as well as social media and art, or as a tourist, everyone can help. Vocal, sustained support for shark conservation from the public is not only truly meaningful; it’s essential for creating a brighter future for these extraordinary animals.


Sources

[1] https://sharkstewards.org/shark-finning/shark-finning-fin-facts/ & https://www.iucnredlist.org/ & https://www.iucn.org/


[2] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shark_finning & https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-03/0191/220191.pdf


[3] https://www.sharks.org/massacre-for-soup


[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longline_fishing


[5] https://sharkchampions.org.au/issue/shark-ecosystem/


[6] https://sharkchampions.org.au/understanding-sharks/ & https://www.sharkophile.com/


[7] https://www.sharks.org/massacre-for-soup


[8] https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11495-us-shellfish-industry-destroyed-by-shark-fishing/


[9] https://news.mongabay.com/2021/04/shark-catastrophe-points-to-failure-to-enact-global-biodiversity-agreements/amp/ & https://www.fws.gov/story/2020-08/sharks-should-be-respected-not-feared#:~:text=Why%20do%20we%20need%20to,the%20decline%20of%20coral%20reefs


[10] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/natural-resource-management-reverse-biodiversity-loss/ & https://sharkchampions.org.au/issue/shark-ecosystem/


[11] https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/white-shark


[12] https://www.iccat.int/Documents/Meetings/COMM2021/PRESS_RELEASE_ENG.pdf


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