A shark fin displayed on the Sharks! Behind the Scenes immersion tour offered by the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. / Justin Kendall

What’s The Problem With Shark Finning?

That is a question a lot of people ask when they hear shark finning. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t think it’s a problem to kill sharks. They live in a bubble controlled by the news and television. They are the people who believe sharks kill thousands of people each year and base their whole knowledge of sharks on movies such as JAWS. These people think they know about sharks because they see a special during Shark Week or hear about a shark attack on the news. I bet if you were to ask these people to name 10 species of sharks they couldn’t do it. Of course they would have the standard go to species like Great White, Tiger, Mako, and Hammerhead but what about the other over four hundred species of sharks? There’s a lot to learn about shark finning that you won’t find the news reporting.

Lets start with what shark finning is. Shark finning is when a sharks fins are removed to be sold for use in things like Ancient Chinese “Medicines” and Shark Fin Soup. The “medicines” can cause more harm than the supposed “health benefit”. Shark fins do nothing for Shark Fin Soup, they just sit there like a gelatin, they impart no flavor or benefit. Shark fins are collected by catching the sharks, pulling them onto a boat, then taking a hot knife and slicing the fins off while the shark is still alive, the sharks are then dumped back into the ocean where they either sink to the bottom and drown because they can not swim to keep breathing or they are attacked by other predators. There are some fins collected by fisherman who keep the whole shark, a lot of countries and states are requiring the entire shark be bought to port. Either way the end scenario is still dead sharks.

Every year nearly one hundred million (100,000,000) sharks are killed by humans, of that an estimated seventy three million (73,000,000) are killed for their fins. Seventy three million, do you realize what that number means? Lets compare it to the twenty five largest U.S. cities based on this article. In 2012 the populations of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Detroit, San Francisco, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Austin, Columbus, Fort Worth, Charlotte, Memphis, Boston, Baltimore, El Paso, Seattle, Denver, and Nashville combined totaled 36,165,270. That is less than half of the number of sharks killed by finning each year.

Why is it acceptable to murder so many sharks each year without question but if someone was to destroy over fifty (50) major US cities it would be labeled as genocide? Does it go back to the whole “sharks are out to kill humans and must be stopped” mentality bought on by movies like Jaws? If so I have a counter argument for you backed up by stats from Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File. In 2012 there were eighty (80) total shark attacks WORLDWIDE of which ONLY 7 were fatal. So for every one fatal attack on a human the world took it’s revenge out on 10,428,571.42 sharks? Yeah, that seems like the rational thing to do.

Humans need to grow up and get educated about sharks. Murdering them is murdering the ocean. Kill enough of the ocean and we all die. The blood of one hundred million (100,000,000) sharks is on the hands of anyone who chooses to consume, use, or wear anything made from sharks.