Why Sharks Need Our Help

Recently I went through more of the photos I took last autumn in one of Japan’s largest tuna markets. This market is also a broker of shark fins.

Shark finning is the single greatest threat to shark populations all around the world. Fins reach high prices for the controversial delicacy, shark fin soup. Larger sharks that are often caught for fins don't reach reproductive age until they are 5-15 years old (depending on the species). At the rate they are being wiped out, it is very difficult for these populations to stay healthy. 

Sharks play a vital role in balancing the oceans ecosystems. They are predators that act as white blood cells- feeding on sick, weak and injured fish which in turn keeps their populations healthy and strong. Take out one part of this delicate balance and the whole system could collapse. With the oceans providing 50-70% of the oxygen we breathe and being a vital food source for many human communities, this would be disastrous. No sharks, no life!

In the tuna market I visited, some days there would be over 100 blue shark carcasses in the market space (along with a few others that look to be thresher sharks) that would be finned throughout the morning.

Occasionally, frozen fins would also be unloaded from some of the fishing boats; who knows if those sharks were alive when their fins were cut off?

What I want to emphasize here is that this is all happening in ONE market. 100’s of sharks- that take five or more years to reach reproductive maturity- in one market. This is just a small portion of the estimated 100 million sharks killed annually all around the world.

We can all work together to combat this. Here are a few things we can do:

🦈 Avoid shark fin soup, shark meat and other shark products (i.e. liver oil and cartilage supplements, cosmetics containing squalene)

🦈 If you come across any restaurants serving shark, politely ask them to take it off the menu

🦈 Avoid commercially caught seafood that may have had incidental catch of shark (a.k.a. bycatch) among other untargeted species.

🦈 Make your vote and your voice count. Stay informed on legislation, petitions and opportunities for public comments in relation to sharks.

🦈Support responsible shark eco tourism! With successful ecotourism, sharks are literally worth more money alive than dead. 

🦈Donate your time or money to organizations dedicated to shark conservation. 

🦈 Spread the word on sharks and the threats they face. There are still many people that fear sharks or view them as monsters, help change that perspective!

I hope for a future where humans can respect sharks- and humans can respect each other! It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

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