Where are All The Sharks Going?
Saturday, September 25 2010 @ 08:08 AM EDT
Contributed by: richardpitt
If this news item was about something good happening to sharks, then this article would belong in our conservation area, but it isn't about something good - it is about something bad and ongoing and devastating; and just another nail in the coffin of planet earth.
Sharks probably should be on the Hancock Wildlife Foundation's list of example and supported animals as it too, along with the eagle, bear, wolf and orca, is one of the top predators of our planet and one of the "canaries in the mine" that can and does signal when our planet has problems. We have only recently realized that these top predators are in fact valuable in our ecology; valuable and irreplaceable. Sharks perform many different functions but chief amongst them is the fact that they help keep their prey from devolving - they prey on the weakest and cull them. We here at HWF recognize that this is part of life's cycle. It's why we help people learn about the life cycle of our predators and in turn about the life cycle of the planet.
Shark Fin Soup is a delicacy that used to be confined to the tables of the rich in China. Gathering the fins necessary to make it used to be dangerous manual work. That's what made the supply slim and the price high.
Today, thanks to mechanization and the greed that spawned its use in catching sharks wholesale, it can be purchased by anyone and everyone, anywhere where it has not actually been outlawed; and even in most places it has been outlawed. According to this page on the www.stopsharkfinning.net shark fin soup is available here in the Vancouver area in several restaurants. Chances are its available somewhere near you too.
Only through the combined actions of everyone can we stop the destruction of this species that is one of the top predators in our seas. Do your part. Read and learn about what is going on. Talk to others. Blog about it. Ask your friends - yes, your Asian friends and in fact everyone - whether they frequent restaurants where this "delicacy" is served. Use your social might to make this unacceptable and tell them why it is. Simply boycotting a restaurant is not going to help, you have to make the activity of eating shark-fin soup socially unacceptable, here and everywhere else.
According to this article in Wired News, scientists estimate that 90 percent of the largest sharks have already been harvested.
As the stopsharkfinning web site says:
The consequences of the decline in shark populations on ocean life are immense. The large shark species are "apex" predators, they are ecological stablisers, once they are gone, all hell will break loose. For example along the US East Coast where large sharks such as black tip and tiger sharks have been virtually elimated, there have been declines in shellfish numbers and a reduction in water quality (shellfish filter sea water). Populations of small sharks, rays and skates have increased rapidly, consuming shellfish at an unsustainable rate. If you remove apex predators from an ecosystem the result is the same as removing the foundations from a building - total collapse.