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Fins or Food?
News Bytes 08/8/2022 4 Comments

Scary movies like Jaws turned sharks into the villains of the sea. But the tide of opinion has changed. A rising chorus demands: Save the sharks! And U.S. legislators are getting involved.

Since the 1970s, shark populations have dwindled by 71% due to overfishing. About a third of all shark species are headed toward endangerment or extinction.

Even worse, many hunters want only the fins.

In 2000, the United States made “shark finning” illegal. Despite the ban, some fishers slice off as many as 73 million shark fins every year. It’s still legal to buy and sell shark fins in the United States. Sometimes, fishers dump the shark bodies back into the water, leaving finless sharks to suffocate or bleed to death.

What drives this gruesome practice? Soup and status.

In China, shark fin soup is considered a delicacy. Delicious? Maybe. But more importantly: expensive. By eating shark fin soup, rich connoisseurs say, “Look at all my wealth!”

Activists claim this fin trade has turned as ugly as the elephant ivory trade. Recently, one Florida-based exporter was accused of labelling 5,666 pounds of shark fins as lobsters. Similar illegal fishing operations might hide behind shell companies—no seafood pun intended—and deal in other illicit products, such as drugs.

U.S. Congress now debates a federal ban on the shark fin trade, making it illegal to buy and sell even foreign-caught fins.

But will a federal ban save the sharks? Some experts think not.

Demian Chapman leads shark research at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida. According to him, the ban could backfire. China’s appetite for shark fin soup won’t go away, and other countries—countries with far less regulation—will step in to fill the demand.

“This is great,” says Chapman. “But we have to support science-based management measures that address the real problems.”

Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away. — Hosea 4:3

(Confiscated shark fins shown during a Florida news conference in 2020. AP/Wilfredo Lee)

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Most recent comments

This is Wyn

Poor sharks! : (

question. Why not just take

question. Why not just take the whole shark? Isnt that just wasted meat?

@Caden W

only sharks fins have the tender strands of meat that they put in basically chicken noodle soup and then call it shark fin soup (and raise the price). I have heard you can't even taste them.

@Franz R

Wow, you can't even taste it? If that's true, I wonder why people don't just buy chicken noodle soup and save money. (And sharks.)

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