1/3 of open-ocean sharks are threatened with extinction
As predators at or near the top of marine food webs, sharks have helped maintain the balance of marine life in our oceans for the past 400 million years. Research shows that the massive depletion of sharks has cascading effects throughout our oceans. Fins from up to 73 million sharks are used every year for shark fin soup, resulting in the collapse of many shark populations worldwide. An estimated 1/3 of open-ocean shark species are currently threatened with extinction, with certain populations experiencing a 99% population decline.
The process of shark finning is as cruel as it is wasteful. Captured at sea and hauled on deck, sharks are often still alive when their fins are hacked off. Because shark meat is not considered as valuable as shark fin, the maimed animals are tossed overboard to drown or bleed to death, with 98% of the shark going to waste.
Shark fin soup has long been a popular entree due to its association with prestige and privilege in Asian cultures, regularly served at banquets, weddings, and corporate events. As a result of China's expanding economy and rising affluence, an increasing number of people can now afford the soup, priced at up to $100 USD per bowl, and demand has risen dramatically. Though shark fin soup repesents status in Asian culture, the fin itself adds no flavor, nutritional, nor medicinal value. Studies have shown that the consumption of shark fin poses a serious threat to human health, as they contain an extremely high concentration of mercury and other toxins. Some of the dangers of mercury include fetal damage, infertility, increased risk of heart disease, and neurological damage.
This ruthless practice remains legal in many parts of the world.
What is WildAid doing?:
Since 2000, our Shark Conservation Program has successfully elevated the international profile of sharks and has highlighted the importance of global shark conservation. This has contributed to the achievement of finning legislation in the European Union, victories in key US states, international protection for three shark species, and a UN resolution addressing the shark finning problem as well as a significant decrease in consumption of shark fins in key Asian countries. We have engaged a unique network of media partners enabling us to reach one billion people each week with high-impact messaging, with the help of our international ambassador Yao Ming, who notably swore off shark fin soup in 2006.
We also aim to improve data collection and research, to advocate protection for individual species under international agreements and conventions, and to support Marine Reserves and other key areas where sharks are protected.
How can you help?:
- First and foremost, do not buy food containing shark fin.
- Tell your friends and relatives that they may be contributing to the irreversible decline of shark populations.
- Always opt for environmental and sustainable alternatives and substitutes.
- Contact your elected officials asking them what steps they are taking to end the unregulated trade in shark fins.
- Sign our shark pledge, vowing to lend your voice to the 73 million sharks whose fins are used in shark fin soup every year.