Blog Tags: Shark Fin Soup
The good news just keeps rolling in for sharks – this time from Toronto and Taiwan.
Yesterday the Toronto City Council voted to ban the sale and use of shark fins in the city; the ban will take effect in September 2012.
Meanwhile, Taiwan has announced its intention to ban the practice of shark finning starting next year, a step forward in promoting the sustainable fishing and humane treatment of sharks. Shark finning is the practice of cutting the valuable fins off of sharks, and throwing the dead or dying body back in the ocean. Shark fins are used to make shark fin soup, a popular and expensive dish that is served primarily in China and Taiwan.
While the new regulation won’t stop the catching of sharks, it will mean that boats have to bring the whole shark in to port. This means that the species and size of the caught sharks can be monitored, and therefore can help assess the trends in populations.
While this is a step in the right direction, it is important to reduce the demand for shark fins as well. Up to 73 million sharks are killed each year for the global shark fin trade, and according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, about 20 percent of all sharks are threatened with extinction.
That’s why Oceana works to save sharks from overfishing. You can help by supporting our work to protect sharks!
Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana.
Calling all Californians: Right now your Governor, Jerry Brown, is considering legislation that would effectively end the trade of shark fins. As you’re probably aware, trade in shark fins facilitates the practice of shark finning, which is one of the single biggest contributors to the collapse of shark populations around the globe.
The California State Senate passed a bill to end the trade in California, A.B. 376, earlier this month and we expect the governor to sign or veto the bill this week, so your rapid input is critical.
Fans of sharks have undoubtedly noticed that protections for the oceans' great predators have really ramped up in the last couple of years - and now the New York Times has taken notice, too.
Reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal quoted Oceana's very own Elizabeth Wilson in yesterday's article about the proliferation of shark finning and trade bans. In the last year, the West Coast has neared a total ban on finning and trade, and the U.S. and Chile have passed national bans on finning. Oceana has been an integral part of advocating for shark protections, as tens of millions of sharks, including some rare and endangered species, are killed each year for their fins.
As Elizabeth said in the Times: "We're really enthusiastic to see good things finally starting to happen for sharks."
And we're thrilled by all the Oceana Wavemakers who joined us in the fight to save sharks. There's still time to help: If you're a California resident, you can call Gov. Jerry Brown to encourage him to sign the shark fin ban, AB 376, that was passed by the state Senate last week into law at 916-445-2841. Call by Oct. 9, which is the deadline for it to be passed. The sharks thank you!
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.
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.
Yet another victory today, if you can believe it. In a last minute vote, the U.S. Senate passed the Shark Conservation Act, which will end shark finning in U.S. waters.
Each year, commercial fishing gear kills more than 100 million sharks worldwide – including tens of millions for just their fins, for use in shark fin soup. Landing sharks with their fins still attached allows for better enforcement and data collection for stock assessments and quota monitoring.
The Shark Conservation Act improves the existing law originally intended to prevent shark finning, and it also allows the U.S. to take action against countries whose shark finning restrictions are not as strenuous. The passage of this bill signals the U.S.’s ongoing commitment to shark conservation.
Only one step stands in the way of this bill becoming law -- it returns to the House for one final vote to accept the Senate’s version of the legislation. We’re almost there…
Thanks to all of you who helped us -- and the sharks -- get this far!
You know that sharks are in trouble around the world. Their populations are crashing as a result of overfishing, shark finning and bycatch, and the oceans are suffering as a result.
So this shark week, what can you do to help save sharks? Here are five ways. Have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments.
The Shark Conservation Act would end shark finning in U.S. waters and make us world leaders in shark conservation. Tell your Senators to support shark protections by passing this bill.
Not only is it ecologically irresponsible to serve shark meat, it is also unhealthy. Since they are at the top of the ocean food chain, sharks bioaccumulate high amounts of mercury. For women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, this is especially dangerous. The bottom line? Stay away from shark meat.
Yes, sharks can be soft and cuddly -- when you adopt one from Oceana. When you adopt a hammerhead shark, you’ll receive a hammerhead stuffed animal with a personalized adoption certificate, and your donation will help our work to protect them.
There are dozens of species of sharks, from toothy great whites to filter-feeding whale sharks. The more you learn about these creatures, the more you will love them. So educate yourself and your loved ones -- especially the shark-fearing ones.
As our shark spokeswoman, January Jones, said in her PSA, we shouldn’t be scared of sharks, we should be scared for them. Spread this message on Facebook and Twitter -- and any other way you know how.
We often tell you about the threats facing sharks globally -- finning, bycatch, overfishing -- but we don’t regularly shine a spotlight on the individual species affected.
To continue our ongoing shark-themed posts in honor of Shark Week, here are 10 of the most threatened shark species in the world:
1. Basking sharks are the second largest shark, easily distinguished by their huge, filter-feeding mouths. Basking sharks are caught in target fisheries around the world for their oil, meat and fins, and they are also caught as bycatch in other fisheries.
2. Blue sharks are one of the most previously abundant shark species. Now they are the most heavily fished shark in the world. An estimated 10-20 million individuals are killed by fisheries annually, mostly as bycatch. Blue shark meat is beginning to replace swordfish in many Mediterranean countries and the fins are commonly used in shark fin soup.
3. Deep-sea sharks have huge livers that contain high amounts of oil to regulate their buoyancy at depths. As a result, they are caught by deep-sea trawls, gillnets and longlines for an oily substance found in their livers called squalene. Squalene, or its derivative squalane, is found in many cosmetic products.