What is shark finning?
According to Sharkwater.com, shark finning can be defined as “the removal and retention of shark fins and the discard at sea of the carcass. The shark is most often still alive when it is tossed back into the water. Unable to swim, the shark slowly sinks toward the bottom where it is eaten alive by other fish.” This leaves approximately 99% of the shark completely wasted.
It’s estimated that more than 100 million sharks are killed annually for their fins. As opposed to the annual global average of six human fatalities by sharks per year (floridamuseum.ufl.edu). It doesn’t take much to see the astronomical difference in numbers here.
Aside from the obvious depletion of shark populations, the killing of these sharks, in turn, threatens marine ecosystems and their stability.
What does this mean for the U.S.?
Currently, the U.S. has 12 states that have enacted laws to prohibit shark fin trade outright, making it illegal to sell, trade, or possess shark fins within their borders (sharkstewards.org). The following states are in participation: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, as well as three territories American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
This all said, “while it’s illegal to kill sharks for their fins in U.S. waters, it’s not illegal to import shark fins into the country.” (coastalliving.com)
Canada's new legislation
As of June, Canada passed the new Fisheries Act which makes Canada the first G20 country to ban the export and import of shark fins according to Josh Laughren, the executive director of Oceana Canada. Laughren continued on to say that Canada was the largest importer of shark fins outside of Asia. (reuters.com)
While this solution may not be the ultimate answer, Canada is surely leading the way by example, putting action behind a necessary cause.
How can you help?
Head over to this page from Oceana to tell Congress that you demand change. Continue to educate yourself on what is going on not only world wide, but in your specific country. Leave me a comment on our Facebook page to give me more information, add your opinion, voice your concerns, and share this information with your family, friends, and colleagues. I love Shark Week a whole lot, but I don't want all the glory of this fun, week-long event to allow us to forget what's really important.
Looking for a way to help protect our ocean from toxic chemicals? Check out the Reef-safe Sunscreen blog post now!
Jamie is a musician, avid lover of nature, and a dog momma living a more sustainable life each and every day.