Save The Sharks

Save The Sharks

28 February, 2017
Say No To Shark Fin
What You Need To Know
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As far back as I can remember I have always been fascinated with sharks. Volunteering at Hong Kong Shark Foundation opened my eyes to just how much trouble sharks are in.

The following info is just some of what I learnt from my time there:

- Sharks are older than dinosaurs; they have been around for 400 million years and survived 5 mass extinctions.

- There are over 500 species of sharks and in the last 30 years some species have declined by 99%. Over one third of shark species are now threatened with extinction.

- In 2015, sharks killed only 6 people. Every year on average, humans kill 100 million sharks.

- Sharks are being killed as a result of by-catch, illegal fishing, and the demand for shark fin soup.

- 50% of the world’s shark fins are imported directly into Hong Kong and from there most are sent on to supply the largest market of shark fin in Mainland China.

- Shark meat is consumed all over the world. You may not even know you are eating it as it commonly re-named as a type of fish.

- Shark finning is the practice that involves cutting the fins of a live shark and throwing it back into the ocean where the sharks slowly drown, bleed to death or get eaten alive by other fish

Since sharks are an apex predator of the oceans they are low in numbers compared to other fish. They play a crucial part of the marine food chain and if they were to be removed, the whole food chain would fall apart.

One way they keep ocean ecosystems healthy is by eating slower, older and sick fish. By removing the sick fish, it helps prevent the spread of disease.

The amount of sharks being killed is so high so it is impossible for them to be able to reproduce enough to replenish this loss. Lots of sharks are killed before they even reach sexual maturity. For some species it can take between 15-20 years to reach reproductive age and they don't reproduce every year. Not only that, but sharks don’t always give birth in high numbers and they have long pregnancies too ranging from 9-12 months.

Coral reefs are being destroyed in many ways and studies have shown that the removal of sharks also affects the life in coral reefs. If sharks were removed from coral reef ecosystems, the number of smaller predators would increase, causing more herbivorous fish that clean the coral to be eaten. If there are no herbivores fish to eat the coral, the coral would soon be over run with algae and all life on the reef would perish.

The disappearance of sharks also plays a role in climate change. Blue Carbon areas such as mangroves, salt marshes and places with sea grass store carbon at a rate 40 times faster than tropical rainforests. Animals like turtles, crabs and stingrays become more abundant when sharks are removed from the ecosystem, causing more of these carbon filled plants to be eaten. The ancient carbon that is stored in these plants is released into the atmosphere when they are eaten.

Since the removal of sharks could result in a collapse of the ocean’s ecosystems and since a whopping 70% of the planet’s oxygen comes from the ocean, sharks are definitely not an animal that we should be messing with. If we continue fishing the oceans at this rate, it is predicted that by 2048 there will be no fish left in the ocean and if there is no fish, there is no life on earth.

The first thing we can do to help to save sharks is to not purchase or consume any shark products. Always check the labels on any beauty products you buy to make sure they don’t contain squalene. As millions of sharks are killed every year as by-catch from the fishing industry, we can help stop this is by not consuming any seafood.

Animal agriculture is also responsible for creating more than 500 dead zones in the ocean and are the leading cause of species extinction. The best thing we can do to help save them is by not consuming any animals or any animal products.

By: Jess Henderson
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