Sharks?! Those scary man-eating machines that kill hundreds of people worldwide?! And have razor sharp rows of teeth?! Why do I care about them?
Well you should. Because they are dying, and they are not as evil as you’d think.
Daily Dose of Facts:
- Approximately 10 people are killed per year world-wide in unprovoked shark attacks.
- The average death toll from lightning strikes is 51 deaths per year in the United States.
- For every 1 human killed by a shark, approximately 2,000,000 sharks are killed by humans.
You may be thinking about your irrational fear of sharks and how you should actually be worried more about lighting strikes, but stay with me. The real danger isn’t facing us, it’s facing sharks. A staggering death toll ratio of 1 : 2,000,000 is not something we can ignore. And why is this number so high? It’s because of shark finning.
So What is Shark Finning?
Shark finning is the “removal and retention of shark fins and the [discarding] at sea of the carcass.” After the shark fins are removed, the shark is most often alive and then tossed back into the water. A shark’s fins allow them to move, to swim. Without being able to swim, they fall to the bottom of the ocean, where it will be eaten alive by other fish.
The statistic? Over 100 million sharks are killed every year.
Shark finning has increased globally due to the increased demand for shark fins. One popular use for shark fins is for shark fin soup, a delicacy in China. Shark fins themselves have virtually no flavor, so the fin is used to add texture to the dish. Some Chinese citizens believe in extraordinary health benefits to shark fins, using them in medicines and dishes. However, these supposed health benefits do not outweigh the mutilation and killing of millions of sharks per year.
China’s economic growth has also allowed this expensive delicacy to be within reach of the growing middle class. One kilogram of shark fin can be sold for $650 USD, proving the fin is a major delicacy and a billion dollar market. Improved fishing technology has also increased shark finning globally. Unfortunately, shark finning is unmonitored and unrestrained.
So What’s Happening to the Sharks?
Apart from the mutilation and death, shark finning leaves living sharks incapable of moving to either starve to death or be eaten alive by other fish.
Shark finning, unlike some (very, very few) forms of fishing, is highly unsustainable. Due to unmonitored shark finning, the extremely large about of shark fins being harvested is depleting the amount of sharks faster than they can reproduce. Not only is this fishing unsustainable, but it is extremely wasteful. 99% of the shark is wasted when shark finning occurs. The extinction of sharks is a huge deal to marine ecosystems and many shark species are projected to become extinct in the next ten years do to the way sharks are harvested. Taking away predators will cause the ecosystems in which sharks dwell to spiral out of control, causing a ripple effect in the ocean.
SO WAIT … NO MORE SHARK WEEK?
Yeah. No more shark week.
More importantly, no more beautiful creatures that provide an important balance to the many ecosystems of the world’s oceans. Sharks are predators, just like lions and polar bears. Without important, and iconic, predators, ecosystems would be thrown into turmoil.
Apart from the ecological effects, sharks are beautiful creatures that should be looked after. Sharks are one of the few creatures that inhabited the world’s oceans long before the first dinosaur. AKA, sharks have been inhabitants of this planet long before us, and deserve to thrive in there home of more than hundreds of millions of years.
So What Do I Think?
I think that sharks pose little to no risk to humans, statistically. I’m not advising anyone to jump into shark-infested waters, but we have to start thinking as sharks as a beautiful species, and less like a violent man-killing machine.
From a vegetarian/vegan perspective, I think all lives, including land and marine lives, matter. For others, I would hope you agree.
If not, think about the effects of a predator becoming extinct from an ecosystem. Think of the overpopulation of a marine species that will become so overwhelming, it will make other marine life extinct. Think of your favorite fish-dish, or perhaps, your favorite marine animal. Think about how they will be affected, if you still don’t care about the lives of millions of sharks.
So What Should I Do About This?
Think about what you eat. What kind of environmental and ecological implications does that industry have? Do the foods I consume support an industry in which unsafe practices are common?
Try to limit or eliminate the foods that cause damage by adding in vegan or vegetarian products to your diet that are sustainable and ethical.
Shark finning is not ethical, plain and simple. Shark finning needs to be stopped. Read more and understand the implications of shark finning. Support causes to end shark finning worldwide and save sharks from extinction!
The following links are reading materials and amazing organizations that need your support!
Don’t be afraid of me, I need your help!