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What Do You Really Know About Shark Finning?

Posted: 01/03/2013 12:28 pm

We're really concerned about shark finning here at TerraMar and want to see an end to the senseless killing of sharks. Shark fin soup is primarily eaten at weddings -- the happiest of occasions.

How is a shark finned? A shark is caught, its fin is cut off and the shark is thrown back into the ocean, alive, to drown to death.

How much do you really know about sharks? You tune in religiously to Shark Week on the Discovery channel maybe you've seen Jaws... and... that's it?

Sharks are magnificent creatures who have been around for over 400 million years -- that's right, 400 million years. We want to ensure that they are around for another 400 million.

Removing sharks from our ocean ecosystem can impact the balance of the ocean drastically. Once the shark population is depleted, no amount of money or magic will bring sharks back or be able to reverse the damage to our ecosystems, fishing industries and possibly a great deal of our own food supply. There is a fine balance in our ocean ecosystem and each species depends on the abundance and health of the other to survive.

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We went to Chinatown in New York City to see just how many shops are selling shark fins and what menus featured shark fin soup. It's estimated that 73 million sharks are killed every year for shark fin soup. We found there was no shortage of shark fins for sale in Chinatown.

As we went in and out of various shops asking questions about the various dried creatures -- shark fins, sea cucumbers, abalone and fish maw -- most retailers were less than interested in speaking to us about their goods, which they sold in abundance and for a very hefty price tag.

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Seems odd they would take the time to display shark fins in such a thoughtful manner, in glass jars perched high up on shelves with tags marking the price per pound, how many inches the fins were and where the shark was from. Most retailers love to carry on about an exotic high priced items, here in Chinatown, silence.

One pound of 7-inch shark fins went for $500+ a pound; we even came across dried abalone at a whopping $1,700 a pound.

I had to turn to the trusty Internet to find out why these items were so expensive. It turns out dried abalone is considered a delicacy, like caviar. Sea cucumbers are known as the "ginseng of the sea" and are enjoyed the same way shark fin soup is -- served to impress your guests. Fish maw is the bladder of a fish, an alternative to shark fin for soups and is full of collagen. All are said to have healthful benefits.

All in all, this trip to Chinatown confirmed shark finning is an ongoing international problem. The remnants of thousands of dead sharks -- brutally killed -- are sitting on shelves of Chinatowns all over the United States.

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This photograph was taken by Paul Hilton you can see thousands of shark fins drying on roof tops in Hong Kong.

Back in February, the New York Times ran a story announcing a bill to ban the sale of shark fins. The bill is sponsored in the Assembly by Alan Maisel, Linda B. Rosenthal and Grace Meng. Meng represents the heavily-Asian district of Flushing, Queens, and is the only Asian-American in the Assembly. Identical bills are expected to be introduced in both houses of the Legislature. At this point, there has been no movement on these bills. China has even addressed the issue and banned all shark fin soup from state banquets.

How can you help? Support any initiative you come across that wants to abolish shark finning. Check out your local Chinatown and see what's for sale first hand. Tell us about what you uncovered! Send us photos and stories to hello@theterramarproject.org. And above all spread the word, the more we educate our friends and family about the problem, the faster we can reach a solution.

Keep in mind that you're more likely to get hit by lightening than eaten by a shark. Conversely, that shark is more likely to be eaten by man than hit by lightening.

 

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