Humans do some horrible things to animals but shark finning would have to be one of the worst. Shark finning is the practice of removing a shark’s fins, which are used to make shark fin soup, while the animal is fully conscious. As shark meat is of little value to fishermen, once the fins have been removed the shark is discarded back into the sea where it eventually drowns.
Shark fin soup is a traditional dish of Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines. While it used to be very expensive and reserved for special occasions, such as weddings and banquets, now due to the increased income levels in those countries and around the world, demand for the soup has risen. These days it is reasonably common, even in Australia, and is often found on the menu at local Chinese restaurants.
Not only is the practice of shark finning incredibly cruel, it is also threatening the survival of many shark species. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature 143 shark species are at high risk of extinction either now or in the near future. Sharks have been around for a very long time, at least 420 million years, but now their very survival is being threatened in the name of soup!
Shark fin soup facts
Below are some of the arguments put forward by those who oppose a ban on the practice of shark finning together with the facts that state why it should be banned.
1. Sharks are dangerous and we’re better off without them.
The number of deaths caused by shark attacks is very small. Only a few species of shark ever attack humans – the others are completely harmless. Sharks are top predators and play an important role in ensuring the health and balance of ocean ecosystems.
2. If you ban the trade in shark fins, it will just lead to a black market trade.
While this may be the case, banning the trade in shark fins would greatly reduce the number of sharks killed in this way. It is possible that some black market trade in shark fins may continue, as it has with ivory, however it is extremely unlikely that the scale of the trade after a ban would be as high as it is now.
3. Only rich people can afford shark fin soup so it’s not such a big problem.
This used to be the case but rising income levels means many more people can now afford to eat shark fin soup.
4. If we ban shark fin soup why not ban eating other types of meat like chickens and cows.
While it’s true that eating any animal involves causing harm, shark finning is particularly cruel as it involves cutting off the fin while the shark is fully conscious. Cutting off a limb of a land-based animal would be illegal in most countries. Shark finning is also incredibly wasteful as only the fin is used while the rest of the animal is discarded back into the sea.
5. Shark fin soup is a part of Chinese culture and shouldn’t be interfered with.
Traditionally eating shark fin soup was a practice reserved for the wealthy elite. It is not a part of traditional culture for the majority of Chinese.
Please sign the petition to the Prime Minister calling for a ban on the import and export of shark fins https://www.marineconservation.org.au/petitions/74/ban-the-import-and-export-of-shark-fin. Also, if you see shark fin soup on the menu of a restaurant you are dining at, you may want to think about spending your dollars elsewhere, and be sure to let them know why!