The extinction of sharks

Sharks don’t cry – Shark fins and finning


For over 450 million years sharks have inhabited this world. But now we are on the way to eliminating the sharks within the next few years. In the large parts of the oceans shark populations have declined in the last 20 years by more than 90 percent (refer the important role of sharks in the ecosystem sea).

This problem is intensified by the slow reproduction rates of sharks, which have a very late sexual maturity. Many types do not reach maturity until 15 years. In addition, many species only have one offspring per year. Many species are unable to replace the vast quantities of dead animals lost for the commercial usage of shark fins making their numbers shrink even more. The list of endangered plant and animal species already contains many endangered shark species. (Source: Red List  of IUCN)

Around 50 million sharks are still being killed each year. Only the fins of a shark are usually used for the popular shark fin soup. Shark fin soup is a status symbol in Asia and it is prestigious to have it served at weddings.

Many sharks are slaughtered with the brutal finning method. All the fins are cut off the shark, and the live but injured shark is then thrown back into the sea. Most sharks can not breathe actively, meaning they must constantly move or stay in currents enabling the water to flow through the gills. Without fins, sharks suffer a slow and agonizing death, suffocating or bleeding to death.

It’s always about profit, sustainability or respect for a living being is not of any interest. The shark fin business is lucrative for fishing. The flesh of the shark up to 15 kg does not yield much compared to its fins. And without a body, so many more fins can be stowed in the cargo hold.

Awareness campaigns, the fear of faked fins and banning shark fin soup at state banquets in China and Hong Kong (since 2013, but finning is still allowed) help to reduce the demand for shark fin. The more people learn about the consequences of eating shark fin soup, the less they want to participate in the trade. Slowly the younger Asian generation is reconsidering and beginning to protect endangered animals.

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