Shark finning is the unimaginably cruel practice of cutting the fins from a shark while it is still alive before throwing the shark back into the sea where it is unable to swim and breathe and it drowns.
Sharks are slow-growing, long-living fish that reach sexual maturity late and produce few offspring. This, coupled with a high demand for shark products such as shark fins, meat and jaws, puts them at a high risk of over-fishing.
Since the 1970s there has been a 71% decline in shark and ray species, with the leading cause attributed to overfishing.Now half of the world’s 31 oceanic shark species are listed as either endangered or critically endangered.The disappearance of these apex predators causes dangerous imbalances in marine ecosystems worldwide. The decline in shark species will inevitably cascade through the food chain, leading to the loss of additional fish populations.
By only having the fins of a shark onboard a vessel, the species becomes harder to identify hampering regulations to protect sharks and gain accurate mortality estimates. It also allows a greater number of sharks to be killed, as more fins can be stored onboard boats than whole sharks.
It is estimated that around 100 million sharks are killed each year for the shark market, with many ending up in the shark fin trade. However the presence of shark fins within a commercial fishery does not automatically mean shark finning has taken place. A shark which is brought to shore and has its fins removed later, is not categorised as shark finning. This is because there is a legal trade in shark meat and fins. In fact “Flake and Chips” is a popular takeaway in Australia and is gaining popularity in the US. But don’t be fooled by the innocuous name. Flake is shark meat harvested from endangered and critically endangered shark populations in South African waters.
If you want to be more involved in shark conservation you can get involved here https://www.change.org/…/i-helped-support-the-usa-ban…
But most importantly you can vote with your wallet. Do you research and choose to only visit dive destinations that actively support shark conversation.