Save the Sharks

Gabe Anderson, Student Contributor

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For hundreds of years sharks have been sought after for their flesh, specifically for their fins as they are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. While shark fin soup has been a traditional dish in China and many parts of southwest Asia for a long time, overfishing has started to take a serious toll on the health of worldwide shark populations. Millions of sharks are killed every year in the process of acquiring meat for shark fin soup. The overfishing that exists today is a serious problem and threat to the health of worldwide marine ecosystems. Overfishing must be controlled to help avoid excessive permanent damage to shark populations in the future.

Killing millions of sharks solely for their fins and economic gain is unjust, and creates many problems for every animal in the ocean. For example, sharks are the apex predators in most marine ecosystems, therefore they serve to regulate and control the population of animals lower on the food chain. However, according to a study by Stanford University about the effects of shark population decline, with sharks becoming more and more absent in the seas mainly due to overfishing, populations of animals that were once controlled may spike (Fairclough 1). The aforementioned phenomena will likely lead to increased competition between said species for resources and food, which will cause many animals to die, as sharks are not present to control the population. Not to mention, the sharks typically caught for shark fin soup are slaughtered in a cruel manner as the fishers rid the animals of their fins and then toss the struggling sharks back into the ocean where they helplessly sink and die. Something about the entire process must change.

Shark fishermen make their living off of killing sharks and helping their country’s economy, however they are also hurting the oceans health. Companies that fish for sharks as well as small fin traders must be controlled because killing off shark populations simply for short term financial gain is an inexcusable practice. If the number of sharks killed drastically decreased and their meat was used to full potential, perhaps the problem would not be quite as severe. However at the moment, tens of millions of sharks of being deprived of their fins, and then thrown helplessly back into the ocean.

While the problem of overfishing is rampant in today’s world, there are some solutions to fix the issues, or limit their impact on the health of the oceans. For example, stricter regulations need to be passed, regarding how many sharks can be caught and killed in a certain time period. By threatening jail time of large fines for infringements upon said law, governments could be of major help in terms of saving shark populations. Additionally, I believe that there needs to be a sharp increase in the amount of protected areas where shark fishing is illegal. These two steps would never entirely solve the issue at hand, yet would likely limit its overall devastation on the health of shark populations across the globe.

Shark fishing is a cruel practice that is detrimental to the health of marine ecosystems across the world. However, improved legal regulations and the addition of larger marine conservation areas could help to nullify the problem in the future.

Works cited

Fairclough, Caty. “Shark Finning: Sharks Turned Prey” Smithsonian. Vol 1. 2013