In August, Discovery Channel ran its 25th Shark Week Special. This week-long television tribute to sharks has generated quite a cult following in recent years. Originally intended to raise awareness for sharks, it has now evolved into a video montage of Jaws’ Greatest Hits. While the hazards of tangling with “Bruce” certainly shouldn’t be trivialized, who is really doing the killing?
It’s estimated that as many as 73 million sharks are killed annually by long line fishermen for a bowl of soup. Long considered a delicacy in Chinese cooking, shark fin soup was once a dish reserved only for royalty. The soup itself tastes of nothing. Almost like plain rice noodles and while the broth is certainly good, the fin itself adds nothing. This symbol of status can now be bought for upwards of $400 in upscale restaurants making it one of the most expensive soups in the world. This strive for status has contributed to the decimation of 95 percent of the species since the 1970s. Unfortunately, the number of sharks being killed for what amounts to 3 percent of its body is not what is most appalling. In probably one of the most barbaric and wasteful acts committed by human beings, hooked sharks have their fins sliced off, while they’re still alive. The actual meat of the shark however has little or no value to fisherman. What’s left of the shark, still wriggling in agony, is generally dumped back into the water where the shark will eventually drown.
Despite this, saving sharks from this cruel fate and eventual extinction is still in contention. In June, the New York State Senate did not vote on a bill banning the sale of imported shark fins. As a result, over 50 restaurants in New York City’s Chinatown will continue to serve shark fin soup. Some have argued that sharks aren’t worth saving. Species go extinct every day and sharks are predators after all; a danger to human beings. However, shark finning poses a real threat; not to just sharks but all marine life. When a species of shark goes extinct, other species in its ecosystem face problems with overpopulation that disrupt the entire food chain. No bowl of soup is worth that.
Filed under: animal cruelty, animal ethics, animal law Tagged: | animal abuse, animal ethics, animal law, animal welfare, environmental ethics, environmental law, shark finning, shark fins, shark week, sharks