Shark fins fetch huge quantities of money, particularly in the far east. Photo: Planetsave / AMC
Revealed: how demand for shark fin soup fuels bloody harvest
11th January, 2011
As Gordon Ramsay tackles shark finning as part of Channel 4's Big Fish Fight, Nick Kettles investigates how the increasing popularity of fin soup is leading to the massacre of millions of sharks globally
Before his death four years ago, author of the book and blockbuster 70s film, Jaws, and environmental campaigner, Peter Benchley, made one of many attempts to redress the impact his creation had had on our understanding of sharks and the need to conserve marine eco-systems. Speaking as a member of the National Council of Environmental Defense, he said: 'The shark in an updated [version of] Jaws could not be the villain; it would have to be written as the victim, for worldwide, sharks are much more the oppressed than the oppressors.'
And indeed, oppressed they are. Today, according to the Shark Specialist Group, a group of 160 experts from 90 countries, overfishing - largely to meet demand for shark fin soup in China - has caused many shark populations to decline steeply. More than 25 per cent of all pelagic (open water) sharks, 35 per cent of epipelagic (those that live closer to the surface) and over half of large oceanic pelagic sharks, are classified as threatened in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.
Unlike some other fisheries, the slow growth, late maturity, and...
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