Shark Finning – What Is It & Where It Happens

Shark finning is a brutal practice that is prohibited in most countries and should be prohibited in all of them.

Sharks are captured alive, after which their fins are removed and they are tossed back into the ocean and left to die.

It is nothing short of barbaric, but it’s also common.

What is Shark Finning?

Sharks have their fins removed while they are alive.

After being tossed back into the ocean, they sink and slowly die of blood loss.

If they’re lucky, they will be eaten by predators, but for many, their death will be slow and agonizing.

To make matters worse, barbaric hunters have no respect for endangered species and are driving many animals to extinction.

They don’t have space on their boats and they don’t have much use for the rest of the shark, so they just toss it aside and keep the fins.

Shark fins are used to make shark fin soup, which is considered to be a delicacy.

Ironically (and tragically) shark fins don’t really taste of anything and all of the flavor comes from the broth.

They don’t have much nutrition value either. Their popularity is partly down to the texture and mainly a result of culture and traditions, as well as their “luxurious” status.

If you can afford shark fins, it means you must be doing quite well for yourself, and as history has repeatedly shown, people will go to great lengths to show others that they are rich and successful.

Is Shark Finning the Only Problem?

Sharks get a pretty bad rap. Films like Jaws, The Reef, and countless B-movies have turned these cartilaginous fish into the antagonists of humanity.

They terrify us on the big screen and send us fleeing for the shoes whenever we glimpse them in the water.

Like many of the things that threaten us or scare us, our reaction is overblown, exaggerated, and brutal.

Shark nets have been employed in South Africa and Australia in reaction to shark sightings and rare shark attacks.

These nets trap the sharks and stop them from swimming, which means they slowly suffocate to death.

Countless sharks are killed in this manner, and if the nets could target sharks and reduce shark attacks, it could be argued that they are effective and necessary.

However, most shark attacks occur near beaches where these nets have been installed, and for every shark that they kill, they kill thousands of turtles, dolphins, and other marine life.

It’s akin to blowing up a zoo just because a tiger mauled someone to death.

Sure, it’s going to reduce the risk of future attacks, but it’s hardly the most effective or sensible way of achieving that goal.

How is the Shark Fin Trade Impacting Shark Populations?

Sharks need to swim forward to breathe.

They filter water through their gills, which is why they need to keep swimming.

When they lose their fins, they can’t do that effectively, and that’s one of the reasons they die a slow and painful death.

Tens of millions of sharks die as a result of shark finning, and the numbers seem to be climbing.

Not only is shark finning cruel, but it’s also reducing shark populations and threatening many endangered species with complete extinction.

Their numbers don’t grow very quickly and their reproductive rates just can’t compete with the losses caused by shark finning.

FAQs About Shark Finning

To learn more about shark finning, shark fin soup, and how the shark fin trade is governed around the world, take a look at these FAQs:

What Is The Purpose Of Shark Finning?

Shark fins are often harvested to make shark fin soup.

As noted already, there isn’t much taste or nutritious value and it’s all about the texture and status.

Is Finning Sharks Illegal?

Shark finning is illegal in the United States and many other countries.

However, shark fins are still sold throughout the country and in other nations that have outlawed the practice.

Fewer than 20 states have actually banned the sale of shark fins, although this number is increasing as the spotlight shines on the brutal practice.

Other countries where shark finning is banned or restricted include Canada, Spain, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, and India.

In many cases, the shark fins can still be harvested, collected, and sold, but they must be attached to the sharks and boats cannot dock with only shark fins.

It might not sound like much, but it means that fewer sharks suffer.

What’s more, as there is limited space on the boats, fewer sharks can be caught during each trip and this keeps shark populations higher.

How Many Sharks Die From Finning?

It has been estimated that shark finning kills between 70 million and 100 million sharks a year.

The shark fin trade has already had a devastating impact on shark populations worldwide and as the appetite for shark fin soup grows, the problem just keeps getting worse.

Which Sharks are Victims of Shark Finning?

Many shark species are targeted for the purpose of shark finning.

The most popular ones include:

  • Bull Sharks
  • Great White Sharks
  • Sandbar Sharks
  • Mako Sharks
  • Spinner Sharks
  • Hammerhead Sharks
  • Oceanic Whitetip Sharks
  • Tiger Sharks

Do Shark Fins Grow Back?

Although some fish are known to regrow their fins, the same isn’t true for sharks.

Not only do their fins not regrow, but they usually die quite quickly without them.

What Country Kills The Most Sharks?

Most shark fins are consumed in China and Vietnam, where they have an insatiable hunger for shark fin soup.

Hong Kong also imports a huge quantity of shark fins.