Devastating Shark Finning

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

Shark finning: It is the gruesome practice of cutting off a live shark's fins and throwing the rest of the animal back into the sea, where it dies a slow and painful death.

How many people know the consequences of shark finning? Not a lot. Or they do know and decide to ignore the lifelong consequences of this ghastly practice. Most people commit the crime of shark finning for a Chinese delicacy called shark fin soup, a symbol of wealth. It's exactly what it sounds like.

Shark Fin Soup: Shark fin soup is a traditional soup or stewed dish found in Chinese cuisine. The shark fins provide texture, while the taste comes from the other soup ingredients. It is commonly served at special occasions such as weddings and banquets, or as a luxury item.

The worst part about shark finning is how it's done. Sharks are caught and then have their fins cut off. Then the finless sharks are thrown back into the ocean, where they die a slow and painful death, by drowning, because they can't survive without their fins.

The fins from the sharks are then lined up in markets and sold to make one dish, shark fin soup.

So what have countries done to prevent or help stop this animal cruelty practice?

-Canada/British Columbia (2019): ban enacted on import and export of shark fins not naturally attached to the shark to/from Canada and British Columbia

-New Zealand (2014): no finning in territorial waters

-British Virgin Islands (2014): no sale, possession, or distribution of shark fin products

-China (2013): no shark fin dishes at official government functions

-India (2013): sharks must be landed with fins attached to their bodies

-Hong Kong (2013): no shark fin soup at government functions

-European Union (2013): no finning by any vessel in EU waters or by any EU-registered vessel worldwide

-The Republic of Malta (2012): sharks must be landed whole

-Venezuela (2012): sharks be landed with fins naturally attached to their bodies

-Brazil (2012): sharks be landed with fins naturally attached to their bodies

-Taiwan (2012): all sharks be landed with fins naturally attached

-Chile (2011): sharks must be landed with fins naturally attached to their bodies

-Honduras (2010): no finning

-United Kingdom (2009): no removal of shark fins at sea by any UK vessel worldwide

-Guinea (2009): no finning in territorial waters

-Argentina (2009): may not retain fins and discard carcasses

-Sierra Leone (2008): no finning

-Colombia (2007): sharks must be landed with fins naturally attached to their bodies

-Panama (2006:) no finning in territorial waters

-El Salvador (2009): no finning in territorial waters

-Seychelles (2006): no removal of fins on board vessel unless granted authorization

-Costa Rica (2006): former “fins attached” requirement reinstated (cancelling a 2003 policy that allowed sharks to be landed without their fins)

-Nicaragua (2004): no fin exports without proof that the meat was sold

-Gambia (2004): no finning in territorial waters

-Namibia (2003): no finning

-Spain (2002): no fins on board without the corresponding carcasses

-United States (2000): unlawful to possess a shark fin in US waters without a corresponding carcass; amended in 2010 to require sharks be brought ashore with fins naturally attached

-United Arab Emirates (1999): sharks must be landed whole

-New South Wales, Australia (1999): no finning in NSW coastal waters; sharks may not be taken on board any vessel without fins naturally attached

-South Africa (1998): sharks must be landed, transported, sold or disposed of whole

-Oman (1998): sharks must be landed, transported, sold or disposed of whole

We should give a nice round of applause to these places where they have slowed or stopped shark finning completely. Ultimately, everywhere should strive to completely ban shark finning, like Honduras, Sierra Leone, and Namibia. But baby steps are needed to accomplish these goals.

These are some places where shark fin soup is banned.

-Hong Kong Disneyland


-Carrefour, NTUC Fairprice, Cold Storage—three major supermarket chains in Singapore

-Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Group

-Shangri-la Hotel chain

-Westin Macau

-Fairmont Hotels Group

-111 hotels, 4 supermarkets, 9 restaurants, and 7 other organizations/companies—as part of the “Fin Free Thailand” program; several US-owned hotels participate in this program, including Four Seasons (Bangkok, Tented Camp, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui), and the JW Marriott (Phuket)

-Starwood Hotels and Resorts (includes Westin USA, Sheraton, Le Meridien, and Four Points)

-Marriott Hotel Group

-Hilton Hotels

-Melia Hotels—Spain’s biggest hotel chain

-Ritz Carlton

Are you still not convinced that shark finning should be banned? Then please continue reading.

What is so important about shark fins that 73-100 million sharks are killed yearly? It's hard to justify people's actions when shark fins are tasteless, contain high levels of mercury, very little nutritional value, and their texture can be very easily replicated.

Fishermen who continue the brutal practice of shark finning rarely care about the species they are finning, even though some are endangered, such as great white sharks, whale sharks, and great hammerhead sharks.

And the process of finning is extremely agonizing because sharks are finned when they are still alive. They feel every single second of their fins being ripped from their bodies.

It was mentioned above that sharks drown without their fins because they can't swim without them. And it's not a quick death. It can take up to a week for the shark's excruciating death to occur.

Lots of sharks have been added to the endangered animals list because of shark finning. Some species have even declined 90% in the past 20 years because of shark finning.

For sharks, fins are necessary to survive. Without them, they will die. It is like tearing out our beating heart for a dish, and then leaving us to die an aching death.

Most sharks are finned and killed before being able to reproduce. This causes their population to harshly decline. It's like killing baby and children sharks.

Sharks are finned for their fins. Their fins are 2% of their body. 73-100 million of sharks are killed for just 2% of themselves. The other 98% of their bodies are thrown back into the ocean, where they sink to the floor and last a unpleasant week before dying.

Like it was mentioned before, 73-100 million sharks are killed per year. That's 96 sharks every 30 seconds. That's 384 sharks dead when you pop your popcorn. 960 sharks dead when you listen to a song. 1,920 sharks dead when you load your dishwasher. 11,520 sharks dead when you watch a movie. 276,480 dead per day.

You might be thinking, "Well, sharks kill humans, too". That's right. They do. Sharks kill about 12 people every year. Humans kill 11,520 sharks every hour.

What happens when sharks are extinct? Peter Benchley explains this perfectly. "Without sharks, you take away the apex predator of the ocean and you destroy the entire food chain."

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