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Kirsten Gotting

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Should shark fishing be banned?

Exploitation has led to the threat of extinction for many shark species. In Chinese culture shark fins are used in the popular shark fin soup, as well as in traditional medicinal remedies, both of which are centuries old and hold significant cultural importance. Demand for shark fins kills 73 million sharks each year. One third of the shark species that swim in the open ocean have been classified as threatened, with some populations being reduced to 10% of their former size.

The European Union (EU) has been responsible for supplying 14% of the shark fins to the global market. In 2003, the EU placed a ban on shark finning, which is the practice of cutting off shark fins at sea and discarding the potentially still living body to the ocean. However a loop hole currently exists that allows fins to comprise a considerable part of any given catch. This year a new ban has been proposed to the European Parliament to remove this loophole and make it illegal to shore shark fins without the bodies. Will placing a new ban on shark finning be enough to prevent sharks from going extinct? Or, should the proposed ban on shark finning be extended to ban fishing sharks in general?

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Closing Statement from Kirsten Gotting

Hello Contributors!

I have to say that every comment held great insight into this topic. Everyone helped open my mind to many of the possible avenues that this question could take. At this point in time I think that the most realistic way to help reestablish shark populations would be to enforce quotas and regulations regarding how many full sharks, fins still attached each fishing vessel would be able to bring in. This could change the availability of shark fins, but they would still be available for cultural traditions. I think that education will come with time, especially considering the example Jayant gave about young couples choosing not to serve the delicacy at their weddings for the sake of biodiversity. I'm not convinced that shark fisheries could be accomplished because of the tons of fish that would be required to feed the sharks. Additionally, farmed shark meat probably wouldn't taste the same as wild shark, kind of like how grass fed cow meat tastes different than grain.

Thank you everyone for your comments! I really enjoyed reading them and I hope everyone keeps sharks on their mind in the future! Lets preserve this ancient and majestic predator of the ocean, as they have helped preserve the biodiversity of the oceans that so many of us enjoy.

Sincerely,

Kirsten Gotting

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    May 27 2012: no, bans have never worked, they only promote crime, education is key to solving problem along with catch quoters, although it hasnt worked for tuna, my beef is that ocean acidity is increasing with more carbon emissions leading to de calcification of plankton that is leading to ever weaker shells, end result of no plankton, no more seafood, some say that it will happen in next 20 years. :(
    • May 27 2012: Actually some bans do work, such as the international ban on elephant ivory. Because it is illegal to buy, sell, trade or own the market has all but disappeared and there isn't money to support poachers. Elephant populations are coming back. A similar tactic may work here, it's not necessarily moral or our call to say that no one can have shark fins, but it doesn't mean that it would be unsuccessful for preventing shark hunting.
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        May 28 2012: thats true, rare, but true, but im more shocked that no one comments on my other point, because when it happens this debate we be pointless.
        • May 28 2012: There's a conversation on education happening below!

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