Brought to you by:Shark-Facts.com
I did not know much, if anything, about the practice of shark finning. When I looked, I found that fishermen who practice it remove shark fins at sea and (typically) toss the rest of the shark. The shark is usually still alive when it goes back into the water. It can’t swim without its fins, and it slowly sinks toward the ocean bottom, where it suffocates or is eaten alive by other fish.
Why do fishermen do it? Shark fins are used to make shark fin soup, a delicacy in China. According to animalsright.com, a single bowl of shark fin soup can cost $100 or more.
David Shiffman (@WhySharksMatter on Twitter) is a marine biologist studying shark feeding ecology and conservation. He’s an outspoken and knowledgeable advocate for sharks. When I asked him about shark finning, he questioned the precision of the estimates used in the infographic above, saying:
It’s really hard to estimate how many sharks are killed worldwide every year. Lots of places don’t report data accurately.
But he agreed that it’s important to ban finning, within the larger perspective of reducing overfishing by other means. And he provided a link to a journal article that provides data on bycatch versus targeted shark fishing versus finning. He said:
‘Stop overfishing’ reduces the number of sharks killed regardless of why they’re killed.
And, clearly, that’s the most important issue here.
Bottom line: Startling infographic about the cruel practice of shark finning, and a word about overfishing from an expert.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.