Shark Finning - the eradication of the top predators
It was a beautiful evening on a remote beach in Costa Rica when a couple of fishermen came back from fishing. I was curious to see what they had caught. Three baby hammerhead sharks, one was still alive until they cut off its head off and threw it to the birds. I took it to take some pictures, my first hammerhead, dead!
Mainly for their fins. These are used to make the so-called shark fin soup, a speciality that is mainly consumed in China. But shark is also used in cosmetics and dog food. Sometimes this extremely expensive product is relabelled and sold as ordinary fish (source: Sharkwater).
To harvest shark fins, fishing boats use longlines to fish for sharks. If one bites, it is pulled on board and its fins are cut off alive, without anaesthesia. The shark is then thrown back into the water where it suffocates or bleeds to death (source: Peta). All this terrible pain is inflicted on 100 million animals every year just for our pleasure and luxury.
But not only the animals have to suffer terribly, but also our oceans. Sharks are among the so-called top predators (they are at the top of the food chain). For over 450 million years, sharks have ensured that the fish population remains healthy. If the sharks die out, the fish stocks become unbalanced and the coral reefs die off (source: science.ORF.at).
But that's not all: if the oceans lose their balance, we are also threatened with extinction. Oceans, or phytoplankton such as diatoms in the oceans, produce over 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe, some researchers even say up to 70 percent. It is therefore incredibly important that this ecosystem remains healthy and intact (source: Zeit Online).
Unfortunately, in most countries of the world the import of shark fins is still NOT illegal, only the catch. Germany included (source: Stop Finning). Thus, the sharks are caught in international waters and legally imported into the countries. Rob Stewart has risked his life countless times to expose this illegal billion dollar industry like no other. In his documentary "Sharkwater - The Extinction" he exposes the industry for the first time and shows what, and above all who, is behind it.
But what can we do as individuals to better protect sharks and entire oceans?
The simplest thing is not to consume special delicacies or "just to try". Whether it's shark fin soup,
Iridescent curls (spiny dogfish), crocodile steak, scorpions, frogs' legs, monkey brains, etc.
You can also check your bathroom products to see if any of them have shark in them. The best thing to do is to look for a vegan seal on the next products you buy, so that the product, as well as the packaging, is made of purely plant-based materials.
In addition, you can support conservation organisations that are out and about every day fighting illegal fishing. Sea Shepherd is at the forefront of this. Sea Shepherd monitors fishing boats worldwide for the mesh size of their nets and which animals they catch.
Sea Shepherd also conducts research, among others on Cocos Island. They look at how the sharks commute in order to be able to protect them in the best possible way.
You can also support SeaLegacy. They fight worldwide for the banning of drift nets and huge nature reserves in the oceans themselves.
You can also support Nakawe Project, who are at the forefront of the fight against the shark finning industry.
Of course, you can also take action yourself, such as demonstrating on the streets to show politicians that you care about our ecosystems. Signing petitions can also be effective. You can also talk to your family and friends about it and raise awareness.
Unfortunately, there are countless grievances in our society that are often deliberately created by industry to influence our consumption. Therefore, it is important to raise awareness about these problems and to communicate them openly.
Another option is to volunteer with local environmental organisations and thus promote nature conservation in your area.
I hope I could help you with my tips and inspire you to change the world with small changes in your daily life.
You don't want to make these small changes in your daily life alone? Then share them with your family and friends.
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