Shark Hunting: The Loss of an Apex Predator, and the Corruption of the Ocean Ecosystem

Essay by sharkattackCollege, UndergraduateA+, November 2008

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Shark Hunting: The Loss of an Apex Predator, and the Corruption of the Ocean EcosystemSharks are, without a doubt, one of the world's top predators. With a keen sense of smell, agile tactics and speed, and the ability to devise and recall attack plans, they are highly capable hunters. However, these top hunters now fall among the top hunted. Overfishing is pushing many shark species to the brink of extinction, and this inherent vulnerability is well documented. Shark fin soup continues to grow ever more popular in Asian countries, shark fishing as a sport is becoming more and more prominent, and thousands of sharks' teeth and jaws can be seen for sale in tourist shops each day. As the demand for shark related products continues to rise, so does the killing. The loss of these apex predators is the cause for a large outcry due to the implications associated with their extinction.

The population depletions can be attributed to three main causes: commercial hunting, recreational hunting, and by-catch. Numerous moral, environmental, and political arguments set the stage for the retaliation against the exploitation of sharks.

Since the 1980s, and greatly expanding thereafter, sharks have been the target of several fisheries. Shark meat has a very limited commercial value, selling for just pennies per pound for the most part, but the shark fins can be sold for exorbitantly high prices, becoming one of the world's most precious commodities. The attraction of shark fins is especially popular in numerous East Asian countries where shark fin soup is considered a delicacy of the highest standards, selling for up to hundreds of dollars per bowl (Verlecar 1080). A larger shark equates to larger fins, and therefore, the bigger species of sharks are targeted for the harvest of their fins. The four that...