Sharks are some of the most fascinating animals on this planet. They are not at all the people-eating monster that they are sometimes depicted as. But they are highly capable predators that are fast, precise and effective. They have fine senses and specific adaptions to their habitat, which reaches from shallow reefs to the deep sea. Because of wrong prejudices, human consumption, money and sports fishing, humans kill millions of sharks each year.
One of the cruelest practices is shark finning. In South-Easia, soup made from shark fins is a delicacy, while the rest of the body is barely consumed. This leads to some fishermen catching sharks and cutting their fins off immediately while the fish are alive. They throw the bodies back into the sea, where a slow and cruel death awaits the sharks. This way they can transport more fins and reach higher profits.
Why are sharks killed in the EU?
The EU banned this practice, but sharks are still killed in incredible numbers for profit. According to Stop Finning, 53 million kg of blue shark were fished in 2016 in the Atlantic. This equals more than one million individuals. Sharks are pretty much worthless in Europe though, because they are not consumed. So, fishermen and fishing companies sell the fins to Asia.
To save shipping costs, the shark fins are cut off after catching and shipped without the rest of the bodies. This creates two problems: It cannot be controlled whether the animals were finned alive or after their death. And it is complicated to determine the species only using the fins. This opens the door for malpractices and fishing of threatened and protected species.
So, how you can we stop that the EU contributes to the issue of shark finning? You can sign a European Citizens Initiative. The European Citizens Initiative demands that sharks can only be sold and transported as whole animals, which prevents shark finning on live animals and makes it easier to identify caught shark species.