Campaign Shark: STOP, Save the shark!
In seas and oceans throughout the world sharks are being caught and maimed by an awful process called ’finning’. The fins are cut off and the animal is thrown overboard whilst being alive through the entire ordeal.
When you think of the Shark you don’t immediately imagine a very vulnerable creature but once put into perspective this view changes. For over 400 million years this beautiful predator has lived and thrived on earth but over the last 20 years international shark populations have declined drastically by 65 to 85%. Reports account for 100 million sharks per year that are destroyed for their fins, whilst the rest of the body is thrown overboard.
The reason for this mutiny of sharks is to supply Asia with its ever increasing appetite for Shark fin soup. Shark meat is considered inferior quality whilst the fin is seen as a delicatessen. Not so long ago, shark fin soup was only eaten by the rich elite as a sign of status but due to the rising middle class, it is now affordable to more people.
Sharks are extra sensitive to over fishing. Just like other predators they have an advanced reproductive cycle, whereby they take longer to mature into adults and also have fewer young. Their reproductive cycles can be compared with that of dolphins and whales. Whales reach sexual maturity after 15 years. Hence it would be virtually impossible for sharks to recover from over fishing.
Worldwide, more and more people are voting for a ban on shark finning. The United Nations have set up an International Plan of Action whereby they allow member states to voluntary enforce a national plan of action to protect and research shark species. Close to 40 governments agreed in 2016 to enhance protection for additional migratory shark and ray species and to a set of new conservation priorities. There is still a lot of work to be done before we can even begin to save the shark. Considering that more countries need to sign the agreement but also this only deals with local waters. The finning process in International waters is still a free for all.
The most important step is the making and enforcing of local as well as international laws. Mostly in developing countries, the will to protect the oceans is there, however the knowledge and equipment is not. That’s where Coral Reef Care comes in. We support and set up projects in developing countries, providing the local population with the tools they need in order to protect, preserve and conserve our natural heritage (see Project Galapagos).