I don’t deny that sometimes sharks bite and even kill humans. However, 15 million times more often, humans kill sharks. Other animals like hippopotamus and crocodiles, tigers, lions, even bees and domestic dogs, our best friends, kill more people than sharks. Of all potentially dangerous animals, sharks kill the least number of people. That is a fact which is never mentioned in the media.
Dinosaurs, which are long extinct, interest us more today than sharks who are essential for our survival. Their slaughter is of little interest to most people and governments. Especially to those who make a lot of money, killing sharks by the millions, cutting off their fins while the shark is still alive and selling the fins for the infamous soup in China. Those who run these, often illegal businesses, make a lot of money; second only to the drug runners.
We humans seem to believe that everything is ours for the taking. We are exploiting the oceans strictly for money and we seem to forget the old warning of the Cree Indian Chief, “Once you have cut down the last tree, poisoned the last river and killed the last fish you will realize, that you cannot eat your money.” We still have a long way ahead of us in educating the public, which is exactly what I am doing.
As a matter of fact, people kill approximately 100 Million sharks every year and I wonder how many are left. Here you see how terrible finning is and how the sharks die a terrible death of starvation and suffocation. Imagine somebody catching little Bambi, cutting off its four legs and throwing it back into the woods. If that happened anywhere in the world there would be an uproar. Animal rights activists would go balistic. The police would be searching for the perpetrators and a judge would certainly sentence them to long prison terms. But when the same things happens to millions of sharks, nobody really cares. With the exception of organizations like The Shark Research Institute, The Shark Trust, Sharkprotect, Sharkproject, The Elasmobranch Societies, Wild Aid, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, among others. There are few who care about sharks. Most people just don’t know the facts and that’s why this website is so important, because it tells you all about it.
Millions of sharks have to die for shark fin soup. Governments don’t seem to care much. The practice of finning, as described above, is illegal in many countries but there are too many loopholes. Sharks don’t have a political lobby and most politicians are not educated enough about sharks to know how important they are for our own survival. As far as I know only The United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Palau, Honduras, and some small countries in the Pacific, imposed a ban on finning. The European Union has too, but is not enforcing the law. Spain is the 3rd largest exporter of shark fins in the world and by far the largest in Europe. Costa Rica recently made finning illegal but whether or not they can or want to enforce it, is the question. I hope they will. Japan and Taiwan are exploiting, if not looting, the oceans, promoting the killing of sharks and make lots of money by selling shark fins. This is the disgusting result of finning; the sharks are forced to die a horrible death.
But sharks deserve our respect and protection from senseless slaughter. They are among the most elegant, highly developed, most mysterious and misunderstood animals on earth. Just because they live in the ocean and we don’t know much about them does not mean that they are not important to us. Let’s keep in mind that ‘terra firma’, the land we live on, only makes up 28% of our planet. The other 72% are oceans and they are very important for us. Dr. Sylvia Earle, the world famous oceanographer and marine biologist, likes to point out: “No Blue – No Green”. Our Planet is more blue than green and without a healthy Blue, there can be no Green.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not your typical animal rights activist. I was a hunter and a fisherman until I started diving. Now I prefer swimming with fish rather than pulling them out of the water. But I do eat game and fish and I strongly believe in sustainable resources. I am not a militant activist but sometimes I get very upset when I read how the Japanese slaughter dolphins in Taiji and whales in Antarctica. Or when the Faroe Islands, an autonomous region of Denmark slaughter pilot whales and poison their own people with the highly contaminated meat. I can get upset when I hear people from the finning mafia tell the world that a ban on finning would not help the sharks and more such ridiculous statements. I am very concerned with the well being of wildlife and don’t want to see any of it extinct.
The biggest problems are caused by those who kill for money. Big fisheries who operate with long lines of up to 40 miles (70 Km) long. They use thousands of hooks, with styrofoam floats, which are baited with fish even with dolphin meat. The Japanese fleet alone uses approximately 100 million hooks per year. They kill tens of thousands of sea birds like the albatross and others. They kill more than 350,000 sea turtles every year and millions of sharks, tens of thousands of dolphins and seals. Others use drag-nets, which destroy the bottom of the oceans and are just as bad. Those people are ruthless. According to a Nov.2010 article in National Geographic, fishermen take more than 170 billion pounds of marine life (77.9 million metric tons) out of the ocean every year. Up to 50% if that is ‘by-catch’ and gets thrown back into the ocean. Unfortunately, those animals are already dead before they make it back into the water. All in all, these fisheries throw away Billions of pounds of marine animals per year, which amounts to 25% of the entire world catch. How long can we allow this waste of resources to continue?
By the year 2017 nearly 100 of the approximately 500 species of sharks will have been extinct. In the eyes of many scientists, the White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias), is already biologically extinct. They will not be able to recover and our grandchildren might never see them. Sharks live quite long, mature late and reproduce very slowly. That all makes them quite vulnerable to overfishing. According to new science, there are only 3,500 white sharks left in the world. Less than tigers. Only 10% of them are sexually mature females. How can they make up for the many who get killed every year when they only have 2 or 3 young (called pups) every 2 years?
Every business that sells shark products, no matter what it is and what excuse they have, is contributing to the demise of a wonderful creature. Some of those people might even tell you that they are concerned about the shark population. Please don’t believe them. Their only concern is their bank account. They don’t give a damn about sharks or the ocean.
Don’t buy: Shark sculls, Teeth or any shark products. You will only help those who make money in the most irresponsible way. Don’t believe those who say that shark products help against cancer. That is a stupid fairy tale. There is absolutely no scientific proof of that.
Spread the word about the situation of sharks and how we must protect them. Contact Me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will be glad to come and talk to your organization, club, school or college. I will do this free of charge. If you want to help, join the Shark Research Institute, where we are working hard to protect sharks.