The first words that come to most people’s minds when they think of a shark are “predator”, “ruthless killer”, “mean, lean killing machine”, a “man-eater”. In truth, sharks attack only around 50 to 75 people worldwide each year, and only 8 to12 of the attacks are fatal. In the United States of America, more people are killed driving to and from the beach than by sharks.
In comparison, 100 million sharks are killed by humans every year, an estimate of 11,000 sharks every hour, around the clock. These numbers are only based on the reported catch numbers. It’s very likely that many more sharks are caught without being reported. All sharks face a great threat due to fishing. Without natural predation in the oceans, their greatest threat comes from the fishing lines and nets dangled from above. Shark finning accounts for most commercially caught sharks. Every day, fishermen catch sharks, pull them out of the ocean, cut off their fins and throw the still-living remains back into the ocean, where they slowly bleed to death. According to National Geographic, around 40,000,000 sharks are slaughtered in this barbaric manner every year. All this for a dish, shark fin soup, a luxurious meal, and a sign of prestige and status in the Chinese culture.
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- U.S. House of Representatives
- California Governor
I would like to address an issue that transcends borders and nations, a global problem that as a world, we must come to terms with and come together to bring an end to. Did you know that 100 million sharks are killed by humans every year, an estimate of 11,000 sharks every hour? Why should we care? Well, most sharks are apex predators and keystone species. Removing them causes the whole marine food web structure to collapse. A study on apex sharks in the Northwest Atlantic shows that 11 species of apex sharks that consume rays, skates, and smaller sharks have decreased in the past 30 years, and consequently, the populations of rays, skates, and smaller sharks have increased. This increase in population of rays caused a decrease in the population of clams, oysters, and scallop, which are all commercially important species. For those who are financially dependent on marine species, the removal of sharks will lead to the closing of businesses and an increase in unemployment.
With little to no natural predation in the ocean sharks' greatest threat comes from shark finning, a practice in which fishermen catch sharks, pull them out of the ocean, cut off their fins and then throw the still-living remains back into the ocean, where they slowly bleed to death. According to National Geographic, about 40,000,000 sharks are slaughtered in this barbaric manner every year. All this for a traditional Chinese dish, shark fin soup. According to Hong Kong's Census and Statistics Department, 83 countries or territories supplied more than 10.3 million kilograms, or 22.7 pounds, of shark fin products to Hong Kong in 2011. The top countries that exported these fins to China were Spain, Mexico, and the United States of America.
In order to end the massacre of these apex predators, we must enforce strict regulations on fishing in the open ocean and inform people of the issues that circulate around the making of shark fin soup. We would like to ask you to help us spread the word about the dangers of shark finning and put an end to this malicious practice. There are various steps we can take to secure the survival of sharks. For example, to raise people's awareness, we can require restaurants that include shark fin soup and other shark dishes in their menus to include a fact or two about shark finning and its impact on other marine life and humans, and we can provide more financial support to the security and management of the world's oceans. Understanding the fact that the population continues to grow, increasing the demand for shark products, and that technology continues to develop, we must begin to treat the oceans not only as food and profit, but also as ecosystems that are potentially in danger. Earth is our home, and protecting it is our duty. We must speak up for the rights of sharks, the ecosystems that need them and the people that depend upon them, and stop shark finning. If we don't, then who will?
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