Shark Finning refers to the practice of cutting off a shark's fins for profit and tossing the shark back into the sea. This practice is extremely cruel, as the shark is often still alive but unable to move normally when thrown back into the sea and so it drowns or is eaten alive.
Shark finning has increased over the last decade due to demand for fins in shark fin soup and traditional medicines, largely coming from Asia and in particular, China.
Regarded as an ancient tradition, shark fin soup is a popular delicacy, fetching over 100US dollars a bowl. With the rise of a more affluent middle-class in a rapidly developing China, consumption of shark fin soup has increased dramatically. Both shark fin soup and traditional medicines are also incorrectly perceived as having high nutritional value and cancer-fighting abilities. In fact, high levels of mercury which accumulate in shark fins due to ocean pollution are very detrimental to health.
The shark finning industry is a lucrative enterprise with suspected ties to organised crime, drumming up profits to the tune of 1.2 billion dollars a year. The industry is widespread and remains largely unmanaged and unmonitored, even in protected marine areas.
Due to such enormous profits and lack of vigilance, shark finning is one of the main causes for the rapid decline in shark populations. It is estimated that every year, up to 100 million sharks are slaughtered for their fins. This is one of the main reasons why it is so important to stop shark finning.
17 countries currently prohibit shark finning, but many international waters remain unregulated, allowing shark finning and fishing to continue. Hong Kong handles between 50-80% of the world trade in shark fin, with the major suppliers coming from Europe (Spain, Britain, France, Portugal, Italy), Asia (Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, India, Japan), the Middle East (United Arab Emirates, Yemen) and the Americas (USA, Mexico).
While shark finning is banned in Australia, Australia still imports 10,000 kg of dried shark fins every year from countries that have not banned finning, including China and the Philippines, which equates to an estimates 26,000 sharks.
Find out more about this cruel and unsustainable practice at our new website,Stop Shark Finning!