India Bans Shark Finning

Chinese demand for the fins of sharks (I have no idea what they are good for) has gone up over the past couple years. India is one of the largest exports of shark parts to China and the Indian government has decided to ban the act of removing fins from sharks.

Worldwide, sharks are in sharp decline, with some species’ numbers now 10 per cent of what they were three decades ago. Their demise threatens the health of ocean ecosystems, experts say, as the top predators are key to keeping fish and turtle populations in check. Tens of millions are caught every year.

Conservationists applauded the ministry’s move as key to ending a cruel practice threatening to push some shark populations to the brink.

“Given the perilous status of many shark species, we urge the state governments to act quickly and work to enforce the policy,” said Belinda Wright of the Wildlife Protection Society of India.

More at the CBC.

Toronto Bans Shark Fins

Toronto has joined other cities around the world in banning the consumption and commercialization of shark fins. The vote was almost unanimous with only three people in council (including the worst mayor Toronto has seen) supporting the killing of sharks for soup. Everyone else on council knew better and supported the ban.

Eric from WildAid sends in the following:

“Toronto’s action is a huge victory in the global fight against an illegal shark fin trade valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Rob Sinclair, Executive Director of WildAid Canada, who has been at the forefront of this campaign for the past five months.

Fins from up to 73 million sharks are used every year to make shark fin soup and related food products. Shark finning is a cruel and wasteful practice – captured at sea and hauled on deck, the sharks are often still alive while their fins are sliced off. Because shark meat is not considered as valuable as the fins, the maimed animals are tossed overboard to drown or bleed to death.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that 1/3 of the world’s shark species are threatened with extinction, with certain species experiencing declines up to 90%.

While the practice of shark finning is illegal in North America, current laws banning shark finning do not address the issue of the shark fin trade. Therefore, fins are being imported into North America from countries with few or even no shark protections in place.

Bans passed recently in California, Hawaii, Oregon and the state of Washington as well as the Ontario cities of Mississauga, and Brantford.

California Bans Shark Fin Soup

There are tons of reason to ban shark fin soup, and it’s not just because it’s cruel to sharks.

“Sharks have been around for nearly 400 million years, and could be wiped out in a single human generation due to an increasing demand for their fins,” said Knights. ”Fisheries regulation on the ground has utterly failed to reduce overfishing — market approaches like this are crucial.”

Fins from up to 73 million sharks per year are used to make shark fin soup, a vastly popular Asian delicacy. Captured at sea and hauled on deck, the sharks are often still alive while their fins are sliced off. Because shark meat is not considered as valuable as shark fin, the maimed animals are tossed overboard to drown or bleed to death. The process is called shark finning, a wasteful and cruel practice still legal in much of the world.

So in this context it is great to see that shark fin soup has been banned in yet another part of the world. Some people are afraid of sharks (I blame Jaws) yet sharks are vital to a healthy and function ocean ecosystem.

A hat tip to WildAid, where you can read the rest of the article.

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