FoodReference.com Logo

FoodReference.com   (Since 1999)

Food Articles, News & Features Section

 

  Home   ·   Food Articles   ·   Food Trivia   ·   Today in Food History   ·   Recipes   ·   Cooking Tips   ·   Videos   ·   Food Quotes   ·   Who's Who   ·   Food Trivia Quizzes   ·   Crosswords   ·   Food Poems   ·   Cookbooks   ·   Food Posters   ·   Recipe Contests   ·   Culinary Schools   ·   Gourmet Tours   ·   Food Festivals & Shows  

 

  You are here > 

HomeFood ArticlesFish & Seafood >  Shark Finning

 

FREE Food & Beverage Publications
An extensive selection of free magazines and other publications for qualified Food, Beverage & Hospitality professionals

SHARK FINNING: A NASTY BUSINESS

 

EarthTalk
(November 6, 2011)

Dear EarthTalk: What is shark finning and why have several U.S. states outlawed it?
-- Betsy Englund, Tampa, FL

Shark finning is the practice of catching sharks, hacking off their fins, and returning them to the ocean (maimed and unable to swim or circulate oxygen through their systems) where they starve to death, suffocate or get eaten by other predators. Fishermen sell the fins, typically on the black market, for use in shark fin soup, a delicacy throughout Asia and increasingly in other areas of the world with large Asian populations. Analysts value the worldwide market for shark fins at upwards of $1.2 billion annually.

“As a result of China’s expanding economy and rising affluence, an increasing number of people can now afford the soup, priced at up to $100 per bowl, and demand has risen dramatically,” reports the non-profit WildAid. “Though shark fin soup represents status in Asian culture, the fin itself adds no flavor, nutritional or medicinal value.” The group adds that the consumption of shark fin poses a serious threat to human health since they contain an extremely high concentration of mercury and other toxins now omnipresent in our oceans.

Shark's FinsThe practice of shark finning to make shark fin soup, a delicacy mostly in Asian cultures, has taken a serious toll on shark populations worldwide. Besides being inhumane to sharks, consumption of shark fin poses a serious threat to human health since they contain an extremely high concentration of mercury and other toxins now omnipresent in our oceans.
Photo: Nicholas Wang, courtesy Flickr

Besides being inhumane, shark finning is taking a heavy toll on shark populations. According to the non-profit Animal Welfare Institute, upwards of 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins alone. Another 50 million die annually as “bycatch” when they become entwined in fishing nets targeting other seafood (some fishermen do make use of this bycatch by selling off what fins, cartilage, liver oil and meat they can). As a result of these multiple threats, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that a third of all shark species are nearing extinction, with some species declining by more than 80 percent in recent decades.

In October 2011, California became the fourth U.S. state (after Hawaii, Oregon and Washington) to ban shark finning and the importation of shark fins. Also in October, Toronto, Ontario, Canada’s largest shark fin market, became the fourth Canadian city to ban shark fins, joining Brantford, Oakville and Mississauga, all also in Ontario, that had bans in place already. Campaigns are underway in both the U.S. and Canada to ban shark fins and shark finning outright coast-to-coast. Mexico has had such a nationwide ban in place since 2007, although enforcement there has been weak. The European Union banned shark finning in 2003 and recently beefed up significantly its own enforcement.

Concerned consumers can be part of the solution by not eating shark fin soup, and by encouraging restaurants not to offer it. The Animal Welfare Institute regularly updates a list of restaurants in major metropolitan areas of the U.S. that still serve shark fin soup, and encourages consumers to contact them if they encounter a restaurant serving shark fin soup that is not yet on their list—and to stop dining there. Whether or not such personal actions, added to the various bans in place, will make a dent in the international shark fin trade remains to be seen, especially given the delicacy’s increasing popularity and affordability.


CONTACTS: Animal Welfare Institute, www.awionline.org; WildAid, www.wildaid.org; IUCN, www.iucn.org

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com   Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial

 

 

CULINARY SCHOOLS & COOKING CLASSES
From Amateur & Basic Cooking Classes to Professional Chef Training - Over 1,000 schools & classes for U.S., Online & Worldwide

RELATED ARTICLES

  Tilefish: History & Facts   ·   Amberjack Facts & Use   ·   Mullet Fish   ·   Tilapia Description & Facts   ·   Tilapia: Grilling Perfect Tilapia   ·   King Mackerel   ·   Spanish Mackerel   ·   Grouper   ·   Snapper   ·   Bighead Carp   ·   Asian Carp Become A Major Problem   ·   World Fisheries In Crises   ·   Swai Fish (Pangasius)   ·   Alaskan Wild Black Cod   ·   Aquaculture Production & the Environment   ·   Bluefish   ·   Catch Shares Fisheries Management   ·   Catfish, Farm Raised   ·   Caviar From Russia with Love   ·   Caviar: Description & Facts   ·   Cod: British Gold   ·   Cyanide Fishing   ·   Fish Facts & Health Benefits   ·   Fish Farms: Raising Fish on Inland 'Farms'   ·   Fish, Becoming More Expensive by the Day   ·   Fish, Something Fishy Going On Here   ·   Flounder   ·   Jellyfish   ·   King Salmon   ·   Komoci Konbu, Herring Eggs on Kelp   ·   Mackerel, Wild   ·   Mahi-Mahi   ·   Pompano   ·   Ocean Fisheries & Overfishing   ·   Salmon, Wild or Farmed   ·   Salmon of Wisdom   ·   Salmon Facts & Types   ·   Salmon, Wild Salmon & Dams   ·   Sockeye Salmon Record Run   ·   Shark   ·   Shark Finning   ·   Smoked Fish   ·   Striped Bass   ·   Sushi Fact Sheet   ·   Swordfish   ·   Trout: Fit for a King   ·   Trout In Trouble   ·   Atlantic Bluefin Tuna in Trouble   ·   Tuna on the Grill   ·   Yellowfin Tuna   ·   Whales Still Hunted in 2012  
  Home   ·   About & Contact Us   ·   Recipe Contests   ·   Food Timeline   ·   Food Links  

Please feel free to link to any pages of FoodReference.com from your website.
For permission to use any of this content please E-mail: james@foodreference.com
All contents are copyright © 1990 - 2014 James T. Ehler and www.FoodReference.com unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved.
You may copy and use portions of this website for non-commercial, personal use only.
Any other use of these materials without prior written authorization is not very nice and violates the copyright.
Please take the time to request permission.