TED Conversations

Kirsten Gotting

This conversation is closed.

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?

Share:

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

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    May 29 2012: Regarding shark farming, the model used would have to be more like beef farming than other fish. You would maintain some adult breeding stock and use artificial insemination or in vitro fertilisation you may even be able to incubate embryos externally. A four year old reef shark would produce maybe 40kg of meat and 1kg of fin. You could feed them the waste from other types of fishing, (frames and heads or by-catch that is normally discarded). Choosing the right species could make the difference. Large fins would help! As would fast growth. I chose reef sharks in my example as they mature in about 4-5 years and produce around 20 offspring in the following 5 years or so. You would eat the males as one male can artificially inseminate many females, just like cattle.
    • thumb
      May 30 2012: I think that shark farming in this manner seems feasible and good. This would be instead of catching a shark and releasing it without fins so that it dies. If you use the whole shark and set up farming like this that uses scraps from other fishing industries as long as its not harmful to the shark. If it doesn't matter what species of shark it is that they use I think using the Reef shark as discussed above could be a good species for use here.
    • thumb
      May 30 2012: I think shark farming would be a great compromise to keep many shark species from becoming extinct while allowing a culture to use shark fins as their parents and grandparents had before them. I feel shark farming COULD discourage many negative practices currently associated with shark finning such a cruel treatment towards the animal and unnecessarily wasting the remains of sharks after de-finning. As with so many other goods once taken off the black market and managed through regulation, shark farming practices could stifle some of the illegal harvesting of fins and bring much needed awareness to the public of the these important nearly extinct animals.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.