Blog Tags: Shark Finning
I might play a blood-sucking vampire on “True Blood,” but in real life I’m a devoted animal lover and conservationist.
In the past few weeks, I’ve followed the proposed ban on the shark fin trade in California, and – in honor of Shark Week – I wanted to share a letter I recently wrote to California State Senator Paul Fong asking for his help to protect sharks:
Dear Assemblymember Fong and Members of the Legislature:
Editor's note: Happy Shark Week! All week long we'll be re-capping some highlights from Shark Week programming, starting with today, and "Great White Invasion."
Great white sharks appear to be more common than ever nowadays, according to “Great White Invasion,” which aired last night as a part of Shark Week's first night of programming. The episode tracked these huge predators as they encroach on popular beaches from Australia to South Africa to southern California.
Why they are coming closer to shore is not completely understood, but scientists point to the availability of fish as well as the opportunity for sharks to sunbathe and enjoy higher oxygen levels in shallower waters as possible explanations. And even though the number of annual shark attacks worldwide has risen in recent years, it is still extremely low compared to the number of beachgoers.
So are great whites really “invading” our coastlines? Not quite. In fact, according to the Census for Marine Life, scientists estimate that there are only about 3,500 great white sharks left in the entire world. Of these, an estimated 219 live off the central California coast, so in reality, sharks aren’t exactly swarming in our oceans just yet.
On July 31, Shark Week is back! Need some ideas on how to celebrate this, the sharkiest time of year? We're here for you:
1. Share the Shark Week Love
Have your friends over for a watch party. Check out the programming schedule. I recommend "Jaws Comes Home" on July 31, but there's a full week of great shark shows to pick from.
Don’t know what to serve? Shark cookies, of course! Make a $35 donation and get a shark cookie cutter and recipe card so your friends can take a bite out of a great white while watching great whites take a bite out of seals.
2. Shark Week 2.0
Bump up your watch party guest list by a few thousand. Take photos and share them with us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Have shark questions? Ask away on Facebook and Twitter and our shark experts will keep you shark savvy.
3. Save Sharks
For one week a year, over 30 million Americans are glued to their TV sets, transfixed by incredible stories of amazing, powerful sharks. But the true story is that they can’t save themselves from their top predator: us.
Caught on fishing lines and targeted for their fins, shark numbers are dropping, and fast. If even just 10% of all Shark Week viewers took action to protect sharks, that would equal millions of people speaking up for the animals they tune in to see each year.
Make sure that Shark Week isn’t the only time we can see sharks. They are great to watch on TV, but we need them in the wild, too.
Fantastic news! Earlier this afternoon, the Chilean National Congress passed a nationwide ban on shark finning.
This groundbreaking decision comes on the heels of a very similar ban passed by the United States Congress last December, and puts both countries at the forefront of shark conservation. Oceana drafted the Chilean bill in January, and we are elated to see it pass into law – without a single dissenter.
Shark finning is an inhumane practice that often involves throwing the rest of the shark’s body back into the water once the desired fin is obtained. Despite its cruelty, shark finning is incredibly rampant, due to culinary demand from Asian countries such as China, where shark fin soup is popular.
With the passage of this bill, Chile joins a growing list of countries leading the way in shark conservation. Because sharks do not respect national boundaries, this legislation will help protect shark populations and ocean health in Chile and beyond.
Shark Truth asks couples holding traditional Chinese wedding feasts to drop one of the traditions: the controversial soup. According to Shark Truth, every ten bowls of soup kills one shark, and many of these couples are holding weddings with hundreds of guests. That's a lot of sharks saved!
The shark-loving couples sent in pictures (some of them quite funny!) of themselves to be voted on through June 6, and the winning couple will be given a honeymoon trip to Hawaii to cage-dive with sharks and see the creatures they are saving.
The practice of slicing off a shark's fin and throwing the shark (sometimes still alive) overboard is cruel, wasteful, and could lead to the extinction of some of these ancient creatures.
Aside from nixing shark fin soup, what else can you do to help? Oceana is urging the U.S. government to do all it can to protect the most vulnerable species. Sign our petition to protect hammerhead and oceanic whitetip sharks from finning.
Chinese NBA basketball star Yao Ming hopes so. As center for the Houston Rockets, Ming is spreading the word to “Say no to shark fin soup” with his new ads sponsored by Oceana and WildAid.
Ming’s message is traveling through San Francisco by bus, including those on Chinatown routes to support legislation (AB 376) to ban the possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins in California.
For her second “Scared for Sharks” PSA, “Mad Men” star January Jones joined Oceana in Belize to swim with the largest fish in the ocean: the whale shark.
Last spring, I traveled with Oceana to Belize’s Gladden Spit Marine Reserve to photograph and film whale sharks for the new "Scared for Sharks" PSA. It was my second time swimming with sharks, so I wasn’t as nervous, especially since whale sharks, like most sharks, are not a threat to humans.
It’s humans, in fact, who pose the greater risk to sharks because of our insatiable desire for shark fins, shark livers, shark teeth and every other shark product you can think of. Scientists say that tens of millions of sharks are killed every year for their fins, which is directly causing some shark populations around the world to crash.
Great news from the Evergreen State: Washington State’s legislature has passed a bill banning the illegal trade of shark fins, an extraordinary step toward shark conservation on the U.S. Pacific coast. The legislation now goes to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
While shark finning is illegal in the U.S., current federal laws banning shark finning do not address the issue of the shark fin trade. As a result, fins are being imported to the U.S. from countries with limited to zero shark protections in place. Similar legislation passed recently in Hawaii and is pending in Oregon and California.
“This legislation is an excellent example of a state taking action to address a global problem,” said Whit Sheard, Senior Advisor and Pacific Counsel for Oceana. “This bill will help us move closer to ending the wasteful and unnecessary depletion of our ocean’s top predators.”
As you know, we are now accepting nominations for our third annual Ocean Heroes Contest. Throughout the nomination period, which ends April 27th, I’ll be featuring a few of the past winners and finalists to get you inspired. First up, the 2010 Junior Ocean Heroes: the Shark Finatics.
To jog your memory, the Shark Finatics are a group of students at Green Chimneys School in Brewster, New York who have raised more than $2,000 for shark research and conservation organizations around the world - and an immeasurable amount of awareness about shark finning.
The Finatics’ teacher Robin Culler recently wrote to us with an enthusiastic update about her students. They were recently featured in the Southeast Brewster Patch, and Culler says the “the kids were awesome and you couldn't get a word in edgewise! They were so thrilled to teach yet one more person about sharks.”
Excellent news for sharks in Chile: Last week the Fisheries Committee of the Chilean Senate voted unanimously to advance legislation that would ban shark finning. Oceana helped promote the bill, which now heads to the Senate for a vote.
Of the 30 species of sharks caught in Chilean fisheries, at least 15 are subject to finning, and blue sharks and mako sharks are the most affected species.
Oceana filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the Chilean National Customs Service, which revealed that between 2006 and 2009, 71 tons of dry shark fins were exported and corresponded to eight different species.
In 2006, the Chilean Government pledged to take conservation measures for sharks through a National Action Plan for Shark Conservation which, among other goals, aims to eliminate finning.
If the bill is approved, shark finning will be banned and sharks will have to be landed with all their fins naturally and completely attached to their bodies. Also, the presence of loose fins on-board, or the transportation or transfer of cut shark fins between vessels, will be totally prohibited.
We’ll keep you posted as the bill moves through the Chilean Congress. The momentum to end shark finning around the world appears to be growing, which is great news for sharks and the oceans.
- Ocean Roundup: Fiddler Crabs Found Far North of Their Range, 500 Dead Sea Lions Discovered in Peru, and More Posted Tue, November 25, 2014
- Sea Turtles Can Get the Bends after Capture in Fishing Gear, Says New Study Posted Tue, November 25, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: Dolphins Use Whistles as Names, Conservationists Call for Removal of Queensland Shark Nets, and More Posted Mon, November 24, 2014
- ICCAT Moves to Properly Manage Bluefin Tuna, but Doesn’t Take Action for Sharks and Swordfish Posted Wed, November 26, 2014
- Oceana in Chile Submits Recommendations for Lowering Common Hake Catch Quotas Posted Mon, November 24, 2014