There has been a lot of shark related news in the last couple of months so I wanted to take some time to talk about it and share the ups and downs with everyone.
Shark conservation is definitely getting more attention these days and for the most part everyone seems to be on board with a “save the sharks” plan. Canada is moving forward quickly with various cities putting their own shark fin bans into place. The city of New Market was the latest to ban all shark fin products. They joined the other Canadian cities of Oakville, Pickering, London, Brantford, Mississauga, and of course Toronto. There has also been talk of banning all imports of shark fin products into Canada. It’s amazing to see a country putting conservation and ocean health before money and tradition.
New York doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind about shark conservation. There are those supporting it and then there are those who stand by tradition and clearly do not care about the future of sharks or the world’s oceans. Recently, The New York Times seemed unable to make a clear stand on the issue. They write numerous articles about the potential ban of shark fin products and always mention the insanely high numbers of sharks that are killed every year. One recent article says:
“Scientists estimate that up to 73 million sharks are killed annually to satisfy the appetite for shark fin soup, leading some species to the brink of extinction and depleting oceans of a key ecosystem predator.”
As a newspaper they seem to understand the conservation issues at risk here, but a search of their website will also take you to a recipe for shark fin soup. It would be great if they could figure out which side they are on. If they care about our sharks, our oceans, and the health of the planet then they should remove that recipe from their website. You can email them at Editorial@nytimes.com and ask them to take down the shark fin soup recipe. The ban of shark fin products in the state of New York is still being discussed.
Even our own President seems to be a little confused about shark fins. One month after signing the Shark Conservation Act into law, President Obama was seen eating a restaurant that serves shark fin soup. He made a quick-lunch stop while in San Francisco and of all his choices he went into a place that serves the very dish that is tied to the act he just signed into law. Shark fin soup is one of the driving factors behind creating the Shark Conservation Act. It was pretty disappointing to see he went there and I know he is very busy but somebody working with him needs to watch for these mistakes in the future so that Obama can continue to set an example and not appear inconsistent to certain values.
Some good shark fin news however comes out of Maryland and Illinois. Both states are currently considering shark fin bans similar to those already passed in Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. In Illinois, HB 4119 has already passed in the house and now moves on to the Senate. Fingers crossed we can get two more states to join in on saving sharks!
Meanwhile the European Union is making some big moves to help shark populations. They have backed a complete and total ban on shark finning. With this new proposal they want ALL boats in their waters and ALL EU registered boats to land with fins still attached. Right now, the EU has enough loop holes and permits to allow finning to continue in their waters. This is what they want to stop. Because it is still just a proposal it needs the support of the European Parliament before it can become law. It seems that Spain and France however do not support this ban on shark finning yet. Hopefully, both countries will realize the importance of shark conservation and join the other countries in supporting this historic legislature.
There was also some interesting scientific information recently released about sharks. A study was released showing that shark finning is the reason for a dramatic decline in blue shark populations off the coast of the United Kingdom. The study showed that blue sharks feed in the exact area that long line fishing boats operate. The scientists who conducted the study say that fishermen are deliberately going after the sharks with a “wall of death”. Blue sharks are considered ‘near threatened’ on the IUCN Red List. Giving more reason to support the shark finning bans in European Union waters.
Another study was released about the consequences of eating shark fins. Scientists have found a direct correlation to the consumption of shark fins and brain diseases. There is a high concentration of BMAA in shark fins, which is a neurotoxin linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig disease. Maybe this needs to be the next campaign? Ban shark fins and save lives?
Hopefully I will have more good news to share soon in the form of more bans being put into law and less sharks ending up as a bowl of soup.
Thanks for reading.
~World Wide Waves