Shark fanning is the practice of removing the fins of a shark and discarding the rest of the shark’s body at sea. This practice is primarily driven by the demand for shark fins, which are used in shark fin soup, a traditional delicacy in some Asian cultures.
The demand for shark fins has led to the overfishing of shark populations, with some species experiencing declines of up to 90%. This has not only affected shark populations, but also the marine ecosystem as a whole.
Shark fanning is also a cruel practice, as the shark is often still alive when its fins are removed. The shark is then thrown back into the ocean, where it sinks to the bottom and dies from suffocation, starvation or predation.
Many countries have banned shark fanning, including the United States, Canada, and the European Union. However, shark fins are still being imported into these countries, as they are often labeled as “dried seafood” to circumvent the ban.
In addition to national bans, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has listed several shark species as protected, including the whale shark and the basking shark. This means that trade in these species is regulated and monitored to prevent overfishing.
In some countries, shark fanning is still legal, and the fins are obtained through legal and unsustainable fishing practices. These include longline fishing and driftnet fishing, which often result in the accidental capture of non-target species, such as sea turtles and seabirds.
Many conservation organizations, such as Shark Advocates International and Wild Aid, have been working to raise awareness about the issue of shark fanning and to lobby for stricter laws and regulations.
In addition to lobbying for stricter laws, conservation organizations are also working to reduce demand for shark fins. This is done through education campaigns and consumer outreach, which aim to raise awareness about the negative impact of shark fanning on shark populations and the marine ecosystem.
Some companies have also committed to not using shark fins in their products and are promoting alternative seafood options. Some restaurants have also pledged not to serve shark fin soup, which is a step in the right direction.
Despite the efforts made to stop shark fanning, the practice is still ongoing, with an estimated 100 million sharks being killed each year for their fins. This has led to the decline of shark populations and the disruption of marine ecosystems.
In some cases, shark populations are taking decades to recover, if they recover at all. This highlights the importance of continuing to work towards ending shark fanning and protecting shark populations.
The lack of regulation and monitoring of shark fanning, especially in international waters, makes it difficult to know the true scale of the problem and how to effectively address it.
Many conservation organizations and governments are working to improve data collection and monitoring of shark populations and shark fanning to better understand the impact and find solutions.
However, it’s also important to recognize that shark fanning is a complex issue, rooted in cultural and economic factors, and that addressing it requires a multifaceted approach that involves not only conservation efforts but also education, awareness and alternative livelihoods for the communities that depend on shark fishing.
In some countries, there have been efforts to promote the use of shark meat for human consumption as an alternative to shark fanning, however, this is not a sustainable solution as it still contributes to overfishing and not all shark species are safe to eat.
See more: SHARK Behavior?