Clipping the Fin Trade
Two years ago, Michael Aw was monitoring the health of local coral in an area that is protected from most fishing. The last thing he expected to find was a finless, dying shark. Someone had hauled in the six-foot gray reef shark, sliced off its fins and tossed it overboard; to cover up this act they tied a fifteen-pound piece of coral to the remains and let it sink.
The fins are used in a very pricey Chinese soup; it is worth a hundred dollars (American) a bowl. Aw, chairman of OceanNEnvironment, a marine-conservation group, vowed then to fight shark finning. A pound of shark fins brings in two hundred dollars (American) while a pound shark meat is only worth a couple of dollars.
A new law in the U.S. bans vessels fishing in the U.S. territorial waters from possessing fins unless the rest of the shark's carcass is also on board.
But the law has hardly stopped the fin trade even among American crews. Law enforcement officials recently a vessel they found it carried thirty-two tons of fins with no other shark parts.
Throughout the ocean, sharks fill an important ecological niche. They the balance of the number of lower animals on the food chain. Yet the population of the shark is fragile. An example of this would be the European over fishing of porbeagles in the north Atlantic in the 1960's that almost caused extinction of this shark. It took nearly thirty years to recover.
Around the world, fishing fleets take and estimated hundred million sharks yearly, mostly just for fins. OceanNEnvironment has launched campaigns to cut the demands.