TED Conversations

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?


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.


Kirsten Gotting

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    May 30 2012: Both of you bring up valid points. I agree with you Beatrix, that culture is constantly evolving. I also agree that somewhere we need to draw a line and make certain things illegal, such as slavery. All I'm saying is we need to look at the issue from all sides before making decisions that could irreversibly change culture. I have no clue how important shark fins are to Chinese culture. To eliminate shark fins completely, I would need evidence that it plays a very minor role in their culture.

    Nickie, you bring up a great point about fishing regulations. Illegal fishing is rampant in the ocean. That's why I proposed creating an organization like the Fish and Wildlife Services of America. This organization uses the profits and license fees from fishing and hunting to enforce regulation. I may have not been clear, but In my response I proposed an alternative method of fish regulation. The pacific ocean needs an organization like the fish and wildlife service. This organization would use profits from fishing to help restore native fish hatcheries and enforce regulations. By making something "illegal" we may create a conflict and riots. Creating a fish organization would "go with the grain" creating less conflicts and still restoring native fish.

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