As 5% more people every year consume shark fin soup, the number of rare sharks in the sea is dropping like the proverbial. With so many common sharks, people tend to believe that less harm is being done than the actual situation. The shark populations have dropped so low that previously endangered species have become almost extinct already. The angel sharks were reduced early in the twentieth century but now it's even the remarkable and rare species that are disappearing.
There are many poorer nations trying to make money by selling the Chinese the fins from sharks to make the now infamous and apparently tasteless soup. While western nations have generally disposed of this trade without any complaint, certain countries and regions play stick-in-the-mud. Narrow voting margins today dismissed shark-finning legislation in the European Parliament. Special permits previously allowed fishermen to remove fins on board their vessels although only Spain and Portugal issue them.
Patrao Neves from Portugal has therefore been fighting the legislation and managed to widen some loopholes by being defeated, but having her amendment on exceptions adopted. Basically she was rejected, but the shilly-shallying has muddied the shark waters for finalising a strong ban. In the next few months the actual facts must be made clear in another plenary session by closing the loopholes in Brussels.
This slow-moving and enormous basking shark is the second largest fish alive, second only to the whale shark. For that remarkable species, see our Encyclopaedia entry, also available on the hompage; Credit: © Andy Murch
Comment has been acerbic of course, including Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for the Shark Trust, who asserts, "We will continue to urge all MEPs to promptly remove all confusion in Plenary and clearly endorse a strict EU policy against removing shark fins at sea, without any more exceptions." As part of the Shark Alliance, the Shark Trust is one of 130 organisations who are coordinated by the Pew Environment Group. What they fight is the ignorance and entrepreneurism that allows such stripping of the world's oceans.
Overfishing is the Pew Group's speciality, or rather the ending of overfishing. This kind of wasteful killing is among the most despicable of the Chinese medical areas which remove our animal species from the planet regularly. The excuse? Well everything in Chinese medicine seems designed to increase sexual potency.
Men of course are the supposed beneficiaries. I sometimes wonder why no one invented a Chinese potency food for women? Anything horny, penile or in this case of a coarse consistency, got the emperors going, and so it has to be used in every celebration nowadays, going by the increasing use and rapidly rising cost of these strange quasi-medicines. Here is the result of the Ming grasp of ceremonial duty for many modern Chinese.
Shark fin soup - the source of this soup? Just the cartilaginous fins of any shark species that can still be caught; Credit: © Sonja Fordham