Today I need to write about the abhorrent practice of shark finning and the grotesque places that sell shark products, thereby directly endorsing this industry. The worst part about it? Many establishments don’t even know what they’re contributing to. So let’s clear it up, once and for all.
The plain truth: shark finning is bad. Very very bad. How bad you ask?
It will kill us. All of us. That’s how bad.
Allow me to explain; I am going to keep this as simple as possible, since countless people who are a lot more educated and better spoken than I am, have dedicated their entire lives to tackling and explaining this problem, but I don’t think we “common” folk really understand the problem, so I wish to break it down as simply as possible.
First of all, the practise is deplorable. For reasons of efficiency and economics, the sharks have their fins removed, while they are alive, and are then thrown back into the ocean; where they either suffocate or get eaten by other predators. Bottom line, they suffer and then they die.
Let me give you a visual:
Secondly, this practise is killing everyone else on the planet as well, and most of us have either never been taught this or are too ignorant to care. It’s a very simple question of the effects of biodiversity and food chains, on ecosystems and photosynthesis.
The oceans are the lungs of the earth. The same way all the plants and trees filter Carbon-dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants out of the air, and leave us humans and animals with breathable Oxygen (O2) in the air; the oceans do the exact same thing, only an awful lot more. (Again – keeping it simple.)
There is supposed to be an abundance of plant life in the ocean that causes photosynthesis (which causes cleaning of air) but that same plant life is also the food of bacteria and crabs that live in the ocean. These bacteria and crabs are eaten by tiny fish who are eaten by bigger fish, who in turn are eaten by the shark.
And this is where the problem starts. Sharks have very slow maturation and reproductive cycles, meaning that they grow up a lot slower than most other fish and can not be “replaced” very easily. If sharks are overfished and their numbers become depleted, they will no longer be abler to keep the population of fish in check.
The effect will be this: Less sharks, means more big fish, who eat more smaller fish. With less smaller fish, the crabs and bacteria will be able to reproduce like crazy, and they will happily eat the plant life in the ocean.
Eventually, there will be so many crabs and bacteria, that they will eat almost all the plant life in the ocean, which means that the Ocean will no longer be able to recycle CO2 into O2. Which, overly simplified of course, means that in the long term – this will lead to us all suffocating. The terrifying part is: that this is already happening at a horrifying rate. Recent figures suggest that approximately 100 million sharks are killed by humans every year (http://goo.gl/3f1JcV) and that significantly less than that are born within the same time span. http://goo.gl/Ys7XJW
For more detailed, comprehensive and scientific information and facts, please also do your own research. You can start by going to websites such as See The Wild, Shark Savers, Stop Sharkfinning and of course, Wikipedia.
Due to these incredibly disturbing scientific facts, I decided a long time ago that I will not in any way shape or form support, endorse or even simply ignore, any store, market, restaurant or other establishment that allows or even encourages the sale of shark meat products. (The only time I ever walked out on anyone at dinner, was when my husband was still my boyfriend and I discovered shark fin soup on the menu of the restaurant we were to have dinner in with his family. I excused myself and left immediately. Thankfully, my then boyfriend supported me full-heartedly and left with me, which probably contributed to him being my husband today.)
As such, I feel it necessary that I point out that it has recently come to my attention that the famous St. George’s Market in Belfast, also has fishmongers who occasionally sell shark meat. At first it was a rumour, however I contacted their Markets Development Manager for confirmation, and received this in response:
Even though it is rare, they know it’s happening and they have made no indication that they feel the need to stop it.
It almost does not need expressing at this point, that my husband and I, as well as many of our family and friends, will not be shopping at St. George’s Market again, anytime soon. As a matter of fact, we will not be going there, until they make a public statement, denouncing this abhorrent behaviour and prohibiting the sale of shark meat at their venue.
I will be expressing my feelings to them personally later this evening, in a response e-mail and I wish to encourage anyone else who feels as I do, to please take a moment to e-mail St. George’s Markets Management about this, and to let them know how you feel about it. (You may do so, here: firstname.lastname@example.org)
I am not calling for at boycott, or putting down anyone else who still wishes to shop there; but I am asking for those of you who believe that the practise of endorsing the slaying of sharks (who are a vital part of our very survival) for the purpose of being sold at a family centred local market, is wrong and should be stopped, to take a moment, think about it and speak up. I just did.
(Feature Image credit: Wikipedia – http://goo.gl/mfbMZI)
Thanks for reading. xoxo