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Shark fin soup is still a driving force in shark population decline

Shark fin soup is an Asian delicacy that is costing nature so much. The problem is that shark meat is not interesting to people – they only want fins for the soup. This means, fins are cut off live sharks and then they are thrown into water, where they drown unable to swim. Scientists from the University of Hong Kong at UBC say that the best solution to this problem would actually be natural reduction of the demand for shark soup.

People say that shark fin soup tastes delicious – you don’t even think about the population of sharks while eating it. Image credit: (WT-en) Ash rex via Wikimedia

Shark fin soup is rather costly. Despite that, it is in high demand, because wealthy buyers want to try this, as they say, delicious meal. The appetite for luxury items is growing rapidly with our economy and the demand for shark fin soup is driving entire populations to a cruel decline. Overfishing is a huge problem  – around 1,4 million tonnes of sharks are caught every year – this number is almost two times bigger than what it was six decades ago. Furthermore, overfishing caused 60 % of shark species to have a threatened status – more than other vertebrate groups.

Most of the sharks are caught in underdeveloped countries where regulations are not as strict. A lot of them are also caught in India, Spain and Taiwan. Fins are sold on international markets and usually find their way into China. Fins are rare and demand for them is huge, which is driving the prices up, making them very attractive for fishing companies and resellers. Scientists estimate that only 4 300 tonnes of dried fins are produced sustainably and another 25 000 – unsustainably. It is nearly impossible to tell the difference between legal and non-legal fins. Authorities have no interest in interfering with the illegal shark fin trade and international efforts are lacking, which is why scientists are calling for overall reduction of the demand to try and save sharks.

People should be educated that eating shark fin soup is not a great thing to do. It may taste good, but at the same time it is causing huge problems for the populations of these magnificent animals. Daniel Pauly, study co-author, said: “The appetite for shark fin soup is growing in places like Vietnam and Macau but slowly declining in Hong Kong and mainland China, where young people are starting to see it as a cultural practice that is worth abandoning”. Hopefully, other Asian countries will follow this example.

Another bad thing is that tourists often order shark fin soup out of curiosity. They want to see what it tastes like and if it is worth all that money and effort. That is another practice that should be abandoned, because pictures of shark fin soup end up on the internet, encouraging others to try this delicacy.

 

Source: UBC


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