Saving Sharks from the Jaws of Greed

The legendary image of sharks portrayed in movies such as Jaws perpetuates remarkable fear among humans. In fact, many species of sharks have experienced dramatic population declines as a result of cruel killing and poorly managed fisheries across the globe. A new report from WildAid, The End of the Line?, describes in great detail the threats facing sharks worldwide.

While sharks have swum through the oceans of the world for as long as 400 million years, according to WildAid's Executive Director, Peter Knights, "Sharks are likely to be in the first round of marine extinctions caused by human activity." The End of the Line? reveals some of the myriad reasons for which sharks are killed: to consume their meat, to use their body parts in medicines and teeth for jewelry, and, increasingly, to slice off their fins for shark fin soup. As described in the Report: "The shark is hauled up on deck, the fins sliced off, and the shark-often still alive- thrown back into the sea. This conserves space in the hold for high-value food species such as tuna and swordfish."

The Report highlights threats to various specific shark species such as the great white shark, fished for sport and killed for its jaws, and the world's largest fish, the whale shark, targeted for fins "sometimes fetching thousands of dollars a set-for use in soup and as displays to advertise shark fin soup."

The authors lead us through the countries most heavily involved in the trade: from Hong Kong, "the center of the global shark fin trade" to China, "the major importer" and "the world's largest consumer of shark fin."

In the US Congress last year, the Shark Finning Prohibition Act was enacted. In February, the United States Department of Commerce issued its "National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks."  Hopefully, The End of the Line? will spur all nations involved in killing and consuming sharks to implement similar regulations to ensure their survival.

For more information, contact: WildAid, 450 Pacific Ave., Suite 201, San Francisco, CA 94133, or log on to http://www.wildaid.org/.