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Driven From Predator to Prey - Sharks Face Extinction


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19 July 2013, 9:53 AM
Millions lose their fins and lives to the sharkfin soup market
Hammerhead sharks are common targets of the finning industry. (Ian Scott / Shutterstock)

Every year, Discovery Channel’s Shark Week concludes its program with a familiar saying: “Sharks have more reason to fear us than we have to fear them.” This comforting thought – more people are killed each year by falling coconuts than by sharks – has never been so true. Sharks are being brutally slaughtered for their fins by the millions, and at this rate sharks soon will be functionally extinct.

The butchery takes place at sea where fishermen haul sharks aboard to saw off their fins and then dump the still-living creatures back into the ocean. The finless sharks writhe to the ocean floor, where they die of suffocation or are eaten by other predators. This hack-and-run strategy known as “finning” allows fisherman to ditch relatively unprofitable meat and sail to port with their cargos filled only with shark’s fins, which can sell for up to $400 a pound as the key ingredient in shark fin soup. More than 80 countries participate in the global market for shark fins, but few outlaw finning; and most of the slaughter occurs in international waters, where the industry is entirely unregulated.

More than 100 million sharks are killed each year, depleting shark populations in some regions by 90 percent. The International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates that 30 percent of shark species are threatened with extinction. Sharks are particularly vulnerable because they reach sexual maturity late in life and produce few offspring. If current fishing practices aren’t curtailed, many species of shark – which have thrived as top predators for 450 million years – could vanish in decades.

Their disappearance would produce cascading effects throughout marine ecosystems. Scientists have evidence that coral reefs devoid of sharks are less resilient, more algae-covered and less biodiverse than reefs where sharks still cruise in large numbers.

Sharks are beneficial to the overall ocean ecosystem. (Ethan Daniels / Shutterstock)
Sharks are beneficial to the overall ocean ecosystem. (Ethan Daniels / Shutterstock)

This crisis demands swift and comprehensive federal action to protect sharks. The Shark Conservation Act answered this call in 2010 when it banned the practice of finning in federal waters and required that all sharks be landed with their fins attached.

And yet, when the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently proposed a rule to implement the law, it suggested that the Shark Conservation Act would preempt stricter state and territorial statutes that currently ban the possession, sale, and trade of shark fins altogether.

Because it is impossible to determine whether a shark fin was harvested through finning – and because most shark fins bought in the United States are imported from countries where the industry is unregulated – prohibiting finning in federal waters does not ensure that “finned” shark fins will be kept out of the market. States and territories that are determined to protect sharks and reduce consumer demand for their fins have passed legislation that eliminates in-state markets for shark fins.

If NMFS succeeds in thwarting the much-needed additional protections that nearly a dozen U.S. states and territories have decided to provide to sharks, the result will be bad for sharks and ocean communities alike. In order to alleviate the impending threat to shark populations, stringent state and territorial restrictions should be combined with, not replaced by, complementary federal protections. After all, we need sharks along for the long haul – and certainly not for just a week on TV.
 

The 'finning' behavior may be self correcting. Shark fins are accumulating a powerful neurotoxin at a rapid rate.... hope it is in time. It's getting harder to be careful what you wish for in this world.

Sharks fins are muscle and have no taste or food value what so ever. It is about time that restaurants using them and anyone in this nasty chain of cruelty, from the fishing boats catching them to the houses drying the fins were prosecuted and jailed.

We killed everything that support life. When are we gonna learn that we're all in this together? Stop killing these creatures, have you no shame?

If the Governments won't ban this procedure, then there is one other remedy, being the people who fish and cut off the fins, should then be given the same treatment, but instead of human fins, cut off their arms and throw them back in the water, which should attract the sharks to feed. The price to pay, will be more than enough to offset the current practice.

La dimension de lo cruel no tiene medida, hay que poner limites a los depredadores del sistema porque a los tiburones porque no lo hacen con su familia que es interesante tambien hay que prohibirles que hagan esto por el bien de la ecologia animal, los tiburones no se merecen que le hagan esto. me siento muy apenado por lo que acontece, atentamente un servidor en la red informatica . Juan Carlos Rivas desde argentina, pais en progreso paulatino.

It's so sad that the living world is dying

Save the sharks!!!

I reported this to an environmental agency back in 1999 when I visited a small town in Costa Rica and saw the outside of a shark fin factory. It seems this town was settled by people from Taiwan (who intermarried with Costa Ricans) and this was their industry - exporting fins to Taiwan - with the sanction of the Costa Rican government. Now, it is too late.

Let nature take its own course

I have no words for it

Mother Nature, God, or whatever Higher Power you choose is crying as she watches what a scourge her creation humanity has become. In a few short decades (most of us reading this will still be alive), we will have rendered the oceans a barren wasteland, extinct of all the large species and polluted with plastic. Tigers will be gone then and lions too if we stay on track. The black rhino went extinct this year and the elephant s not far behind from the same senseless slaughter (ivory trade). And countless smaller species are affected in this domino chain. In the end, we hurt only ourselves. After we render the planet inhabitable to anything but the scourge of humanity, humanity will have nothing but cockroaches to eat and will self-destruct and kill itself off with wars. At which point, Mother Nature/God will grieve her loss and set forth to try again, rebuilding the Earth's bounty. And hoping that whatever humans survive the great extinction will be a smarter bunch. It's so remarkably arrogant of us as a species to think we can just destroy 350 million years of evolutionary success and not bear any consequences. Arrogant. And sad.

Human greed has decimated the planet.

Lets act as the superior race that we are. Save all sentient creatures. Veganism is the future!

3 guesses the main countries that are the culprits here..........China

I cannot comprehend why human beings and governments continually threaten every living thing including the planet itself. It's sickening. Yes, stop slaughtering innocent sharks into extinction!!

This practice to sharks in line to what we do to other animals proves we are the worst creature on Earth, with no respect to Nature at all, acting in the name of Money which is our God

No different than cutting a human's army's off and dropping them alive into the ocean. The most horrible death ever.

We as a nation need to make it illegal and also Pray to God to stop these people. Pray every day for the end of this cruelty and to end all animal cruelly. God answers prayers. God can move mountains.

I pray in Jesus's name to stop ALL the whale hunting. amen

Increasing the penalty and surveillance is all that can be done. enlightening entire nations isn't easy..perhaps appealing to foreign governments to put in place laws and restrictions would ...I myself have never eaten any part of a shark. I have touched one underwater diving though...and it didn't see me as a meal.....I intend to keep it that way.....LOL...!!!

Certainly does say a lot for the human race. Committing this cruelty to sharks, killing the buffalo, the wolves, the mountain lions, rounding up the wild horses & burros - for WHAT?
I agree that the people who are doing this are NOT listening! We all sign petitions, write letters & emails, donate to shelters & rescues - but what does it take?
I guess any species that breeds animals to get that "perfect" one and then throws away all the others - well, what does that say about us? Sadly if we left the wild creatures alone - they would be fine. And that is sad.

This barbaric slaughter needs to stop now.

What a shame to allow such an act of cruelty
To continue and everyone be ok with that!!!

and when manunkind is the last species left.
he will sit in his empty corner,
alone and bereft

and when manunkind is the last species left.
he will sit in his empty corner,
alone and bereft

and when manunkind is the last species left.
he will sit in his empty corner,
alone and bereft

This is just another example of how our species is blindly and exponentially destroying other life forms of the earth and, ultimately, ourselves.

barbaric!

I can't believe how greedy people are.........? it's all about themselves.......and to cut off the shark's fin while it's alive, is too cruel...............
this has to stop!!!

What cruelty! Shamelessly sentencing those sharks to a slow death just to harvest a small part of their bodies for the disgusting gourmands who think that their jaded appetites deserve such suffering. Where are the governments involved??

Save the sharks!! put an end to this disgusting shark finning !

Behave as all life matters

Behave as all life matters

While I understand and respect cultural differences in a broad spectrum, I cannot accept such differences when animals are being tortured in the process! Unfortunately that is the case here.
Greed and immediate gratification are not needs!
Please stop the senseless suffering of the sharks and eradicate the practice of "finning" ~

All of these atrocities are on the list with penis soup from an endangered tiger, which goes for $100.00 per bowl. Killing a rhino to cut off its tusks to be used in some ancient medical remedy, or to kill off an elephant for its tusks , especially when they take nine years to mature and stay pregnant for two years. This is truly a very sad world that we live in. Cowboy

Stop the slaughter! Without these beautiful creatures, the ocean ecosystem will not be same. It's a shame that these asinine hunters don't see the bigger picture. Money is clearly the root of all evil, and I wish that our political "leaders" would stop focusing on minuscule issues that only pad their public image, and they would start focusing on real issues like this that will affect all mankind. I am in favor of any laws here in the US that prohibit the sale of shark fins.

In the last 200 years, basically since the "Industrial Revolution", we humans have managed to almost destroy any big predator, primate or other creature. Taking of these amazing creatures by hunting or fishing has to stop IMMEDIATELY. But the fact is, it won't. Money drives this slaughter and it will continue. Rich Asians want gall bladder potions, ivory, gorilla hand ashtrays and shark fin soup. Rich Americans want a "trophy" mounted to their wall or standing in their dens! And Third world poachers, hunters and trappers will be happy to supply the demand. Legal or illegal, it doesn't make a difference. The name "human" is not very fitting, as we are not very humane. If you have ever watch a PETA video of a slaughter house? Have you ever witnessed a whale getting harpooned and not dying for hours? Have you ever seen a deer or fox with a leg shot off by some hunter and still alive days later, terrified and in excruciating pain? Ever see a dog in Asia getting skinned alive for a little fur trim on a coat? Or a baby seal being clubbed? All this for what? Not one thing except greed and man's desire to conquer!! Humans will destroy our planet. We are breeding like rats and bulldozing everything in our paths to make more room for what? More humans. The animals and plant world cannot compete with our technology. They cannot compete with our exponential growth! It makes me terribly sad this is going on and there is basically no way to stop it. Even with protection there will be too much poaching. It's all driven by the almighty dollar. Look at ivory and elephants. Wiped out for their tusks. Only ones left are in sanctuaries and even those are being poached faster that they can reproduce. Entire herds are being wiped out by poachers at one time. They are surrounded and gunned down as they stand next to one another.

Whether some whack job in North Korea presses the button to start a nuclear war or we just over populate our planet and destroy it ourselves or are wiped out by some disease, it will happen. There is no way to keep it from happening. Our species is just not that smart! Sharks 450,000,000 years in existence, humans 50,000. We won’t last another 100 years!

There are way too few of us conservationists and tree huggers to make a difference. I'm a card carrying member of about 20 conservation groups. Five are listed as terrorist organizations. We try to organize and save our planet, but yet we are labeled as a terrorist organization!!

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the wheels of greed and overpopulation are a turnin!! There's no stopping it!

But I still do what I can! Please go to meeting, ralies and protests!! Join organizations. Volunteer your time. We must try to save all the innocent creatures!!

Mankind needs to advance in all corners of the world. As humans, we should be sensitive to Other animal species that depend on their tusks, fins, or anything else they are born with to survive. Their keen senses depend on these things for survival. Cruelty breeds cruelty.

Only wealthy people can afford to make shark fin soup a part of their diet. The fact that they are doing so indicates the level of their moral perception.

Shark fishing is insane.
Shark finning is insane and barbaric.

It is my sincere belief that anyone finning a shark needs to have their limbs cut off and be dumped in the ocean. THAT is the level required before there is "fairness" in any piece of legislation in my opinion; though I am more radical than most.
I also believe compromise meets a middle ground when radicals meet politically.

Enforcing a ban on international long linining is a step that needs to happen.
And posession of sharks fins in American waters needs to be treated more harshly than that of other controlled substances. After all, there is far more death and cruelty in shark fins.

Another part of winning the battle is the propoganda war.
So many people don't realize the damage they are doing to the planet by eating sharksfin soup. We need to educate them. Not just in Asia, but any country in the world. (Check the menu next time you go out and eat)
Even if it's just one restaurant at a time, they need to be boycotted, and people need to promote exactly what's happening to the sharks; in every country on earth.

As I see it---and I feel that I see it ALL around me and the world--the attacks on nature and all of its priceless gifts are mostly driven by greed. Somewhere in each story, it eventually comes down to money. Until we, human beings [I use this term loosely], wake up and stop measuring happiness and success by the weight of our pockets, we will NEVER be able to stop this horrific insanity and taste for the Earth's natural resources--even when many of us consider these resources off limits. I am heart-broken and deeply discouraged by the daily info on these cases. Obviously, many of us care. How to make the most of our voices?---that is the only way that we'll, each of us, make a difference.

In the last 200 years, basically since the "Industrial Revolution", we humans have managed to almost destroy any big predator, primate or other creature. Taking of these amazing creatures by hunting or fishing has to stop IMMEDIATELY. But the fact is, it won't. Money drives this slaughter and it will continue. Rich Asians want gall bladder potions, ivory, gorilla hand ashtrays and shark fin soup. Rich Americans want a "trophy" mounted to their wall or standing in their dens! And Third world poachers, hunters and trappers will be happy to supply the demand. Legal or illegal, it doesn't make a difference. The name "human" is not very fitting, as we are not very humane. If you have ever watch a PETA video of a slaughter house? Have you ever witnessed a whale getting harpooned and not dying for hours? Have you ever seen a deer or fox with a leg shot off by some hunter and still alive days later, terrified and in excruciating pain? Ever see a dog in Asia getting skinned alive for a little fur trim on a coat? Or a baby seal being clubbed? All this for what? Not one thing except greed and man's desire to conquer!! Humans will destroy our planet. We are breeding like rats and bulldozing everything in our paths to make more room for what? More humans. The animals and plant world cannot compete with our technology. They cannot compete with our exponential growth! It makes me terribly sad this is going on and there is basically no way to stop it. Even with protection there will be too much poaching. It's all driven by the almighty dollar. Look at ivory and elephants. Wiped out for their tusks. Only ones left are in sanctuaries and even those are being poached faster that they can reproduce. Entire herds are being wiped out by poachers at one time. They are surrounded and gunned down as they stand next to one another.

Whether some whack job in North Korea presses the button to start a nuclear war or we just over populate our planet and destroy it ourselves or are wiped out by some disease, it will happen. There is no way to keep it from happening. Our species is just not that smart! Sharks 450,000,000 years in existence, humans 50,000. We won’t last another 100 years!

There are way too few of us conservationists and tree huggers to make a difference. I'm a card carrying member of about 20 conservation groups. Five are listed as terrorist organizations. We try to organize and save our planet, but yet we are labeled as a terrorist organization!!

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the wheels of greed and overpopulation are a turnin!! There's no stopping it!

But still I will try and I hope you do too... Speak out, donate time and money. Go to events and protests. Throw some fake blood on a rich bitch wearing animal fur!! Join Greenpeace, Sierra Club ot the Sea Shephard Society. Do what ever you can!

Me? I would love to hunt seal and whale killers!! Now that would be sport! Heck, I'd give them the same chance they give their targets... NONE!!

Just another example of the cruelty of animals worldwide promoted by the most vicious creature of all time and that is Man. Till the cruelty and the exploitation of animals this world of ours will never ever know the true meaning of love, peace and harmony of co-existing with our beloved animals

People,animals and environment come before profit. Stop the insanity!

Stop this please. This is not right. you know it!!!

STOP EATING SHARK FINS, TOO CRUEL AND ALL THIS FOR A SOUP!...
You are barbaric people!...

Perhaps a scientific group could 'discover' that the shark fins are extremely toxic due to the increase in waste in our oceans and the sharks' growth process stores the toxic material in the extremities.

Sharks are my friends.

To hunt a species to extinction is pure selfishness and GREED, and eventually it will bring about the end of the human race. Unfortunately, by the time certain people/nations figure this out it will be much too late to reverse the process, and all the rest of us are going to pay the ultimate price for their stupidity. They need to use their brains instead of doing everything they can to destroy all living creatures on Earth.

Completely inhumane

Human cruelty and deviant behavior cannot be matched by any other species. How can we walk around this world without enormous guilt feel and immediate actions against such cruelty? We deserve extinction and deserve it fast sorry to say.

It is disturbing that the Obama administration is so anti-wildlife that they are supporting and participating in the slaughter of wolves, bison, and now sharks. I never thought I would see a worse President regarding wildlife conservation then G.W.Bush, however, President Obama is turning out to be even worse.

The U.S. Constitution give "STATE'S RIGHTS" to regulate wildlife/consumer practices as they see fit. Just as States can ban off-shore oil drilling if they choose, so can States ban the sale and processing of shark fins. I hope the Earth Justice lawyers are getting ready to defend these conservation minded States for their positive actions to protect sharks.

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