20/08/2010 | by Alex Dick-Read
Photo by Tom Wielenmann
We may fear them for some pretty good reasons, but sharks have more reason to fear us. The daily, hourly, unceasing murder of sharks around the world – much of it via longline fishing techniques which use 5+-mile-long fishing lines with many thousands of hooks per line – have led to a massive decline in the number of men in grey suits.
This is a problem. Sitting at the top of the food chain, they have a crucial role in maintaining the balance of life in the oceans, from corals and tiny plankton all the way up. A report last year by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates 32 percent of open ocean shark species are in danger of becoming extinct because of overfishing.
Shark-fin soup was a regional delicacy in the Southern part of China until the late 1980s. The Communist Chinese government denounced shark-fin soup as a symbol of elitism but backed off this stance in the late 1980s. Shark-fin soup became popular as a way of honoring guests because it was thought that shark’s fin increased potency and appetite. The demand has increased exponentially in the last 15 years, and now shark’s fin soup can be found in most Chinese Restaurants around the world. Hong Kong has roughly 50 percent of the global trade in shark fins but exports from Singapore and Taiwan are increasing.
So by being first in the world to ban the possession, sale or distribution of shark fins, Hawaii is making some waves that will be felt around the world as other countries follow their lead.
5,000 years of far eastern food culture is one thing, but the health of the oceans is a whole other order of importance.
This excerpt is from Hawaii News Now, which also offers a good video explanation of the problem and the new law.
Animal advocates celebrate historic shark fin ban
By Tim Sakahara/Hawaii News Now
On July 1 Hawaii will become the first government in the world to ban the possession, distribution and sale of shark fins and it’s already sending ripples to the rest of the world.
The law means restaurants won’t be able to serve shark fin soup, but the impact goes well beyond what’s on a Chinese food menu.
From predator to protected, the new state law is aimed at preventing shark finning a process where fisherman slice the fins then throw the animal back into the ocean to die.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s no different than killing an elephant for its tusks or dehorning a rhinoceros for its horn. These are cruel and inhumane practices that have no business in a civilized world,” said State Senator Clayton Hee, (D) Kahuku, Laie, Kaneohe.
State Senator Hee, along with many animal advocates, reeled in the votes to make it illegal to have shark fins.
“It has sent a message that it can get done,” said Sen. Hee.
You can read the rest of this story here.
Photo grabbed from a website that kindly offers a range of shark fin soup recipes.